I will always admit when I'm wrong. If you ask my wife, that's a lot of the time.
I thought a young, promising Swedish goalie was a sneaky good pickup by Stan Bowman when Anton Forsberg was acquired as a minor piece in a larger trade with Columbus.
People were going to judge the Panarin vs. Saad move, but the reality was that Saad had crazy-good success in Chicago winning 2x Stanley Cups, while the "Breadman" was going to cost way too much in 2 years times.
Looking past that, the Hawks had "ok" depth up front, so moving away from Tyler Motte wasn't the end of the world. They knew a backup goalie was needed with Darling heading out of town, so adding in Anton Forsberg looked like a steal in that trade. He had already done all he needed to do in the AHL, winning a Calder Cup and looking like the NHL was the only logical step moving forward.
At times he's looked like an NHL goalie; a backup NHL goalie, but the top-level skills were there.
At other times, he looks like he did last night. Sure, I get it, no goalie looks good in front of this terrible Blackhawks team on most nights, but that 1st goal he let in was nasty-bad. Terrible positioning and completely deflating timing after the Hawks took the lead on the 1st shift.
Now, I'm not saying that the Hawks losing at an alarming (/exciting rate depending what your mindset is these days) can be solely placed on the goaltending. The team in front of Berube or Forsberg has not been good… at all. However, Forsberg, over anyone else was handed the reigns to own the backup/temporary starter position. To date, he has failed. Even when Corey Crawford was healthy, he was average on most nights.
After last night, Forsberg has been pulled in 7 of his 26 starts. His stat line is not very flattering either at 9-14-3, 2.94 GAA, .908 SV%.
So… what to do next year?
I admit, I thought Forsberg had it in him to take control and maybe he still does. I'm starting to think though, if he does have another gear as he matures, it may not be with the Blackhawks of Chicago.
I'm not in the doctor's room, but I would have to think there are some concerns and uncertainty about the Crawford situation. What's #50's future with this team?
Crawford is 33 and has 2 years left on his contract. The Hawks could resign a 35 year old for a couple years after this deal if it makes sense for both parties.
Although that's the fairytale ending for Crow who has been getting even better in his 30's, the realist in me says that the Hawks need a contingency plan.
They have no one in the weeds that are looking promising. The depth chart after Crow IMO would be:
Right now… that's not good.
No one is surprised though; the Hawks haven't been focused on drafting and developing goalies for years now.
This team has focused more on scouting and recruiting guys like Niemi and Raanta, which worked out really well.
However, as it stands today, and as I feel this morning, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hawks sign or trade for more of a 1B goalie at the right price in the off-season.
Who's available you ask? Here are the UFAs this summer that might make sense:
The Hawks have Forsberg (750k), Berube (700k) and Delia (767k) as all signed into next year, but at those salaries can all be buried in the minors. To be honest, Forsberg could benefit gaining his confidence back in the AHL and it would be a benefit if the Hawks could keep him around. I can't see anyone scooping him up on waivers now or next year if he gets sent down.
I suspect the Hawks defence will be better next year, but I'm nervous as the 6 guys out there last night all seem to be in the picture next year. I've been vocal that Stan needs to grab a 1x top 4D (hell, just give de Haan 5x5 already) at the very least.
By adding one or 2x new defenders (if we're lucky) next year make a guy like Forsberg look better? Sure. I bet it would. However, would you like to put the Hawks season of 2018-19 back on Forsberg if Crawford goes down again for an extended period of time? I know I can't.
In conclusion, the depth on D and in net is on Stan Bowman. He needs to admit it and fix it.
Let's see if he agrees with anything above or if Anton Forsberg turns into the new David Rundblad.
See ya out there!