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Top Prospects: Goalies

November 13, 2020, 2:30 AM ET [101 Comments]
Theo Fox
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Today’s blog is the final installment of a three-part series presenting the Blackhawks prospect rankings at forward, on the blueline, and in net. Monday’s blog focused on the forwards and Wednesday’s blog on the defensemen. Last -- but certainly not least -- we feature the goalies.

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Little to No Chance

Ivan Nalimov is that guy when you look at a resume or LinkedIn profile and see that he’s been with a different company every year. You wonder what is it with him that he can’t hold down a steady job.

For 2020-21, he reportedly signed on with the Kunlun Red Star in the KHL but there’s no evidence of him being on the roster. Sounds like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries or Dateline.

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Too Early to Tell

Tom Aubrun was an outstanding goalie in the NCAA, granted his university is a Division III school. For now, consider him a lottery ticket who is the likely starter for the Indy Fuel. No loss if he doesn’t make it past the ECHL but can be a boon if he advances to the AHL and starts to turn heads.

Dominic Basse is the only drafted netminder in this group yet there’s not a lot to find on him as far as accessible scouting reports and videos. Nonetheless, this season he will start his NCAA career at Colorado College where forward prospect Josiah Slavin is a sophomore.

Cale Morris is my pick out of this trio to catapult himself into the goalie mix for the Blackhawks in a season or two. While both were college free agents, Morris’ NCAA stats were generally stronger than Collin Delia’s. Morris is the lead candidate to be the 3rd string goalie in Rockford this season.

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Honorable Mentions

No goalies in this category. Skip to the next slide, please.

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5. Matt Tomkins

2020-21 Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Potential: Career backup
Trajectory: Likely the 2nd string in Rockford this season along with one of Collin Delia or Kevin Lankinen as 1st string and Cale Morris as 3rd string; could prove to be NHL backup material in a season or two

Tomkins finally earned his first NHL contract at the start of this calendar year after he went from an ECHL starter to AHL 3rd string a year ago to possibly an AHL starter this year. He's trending up but will this be his ceiling?

Either way, Tomkins is no longer a distant 3rd anymore on the minor league goalie depth chart with seemingly the best traversing of a growth curve of all netminder prospects.

He’s composed with good technique and nice reflexes. His rebound control is still a work in progress but trending in the right direction.

4. Kevin Lankinen

2020-21 Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL) or Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Potential: Long-time backup who eventually earns a starting job later in his career
Trajectory: Likely competing with Collin Delia for the backup role in Chicago but will be 1st string in Rockford if he falls short; could then be knocking on the NHL door by next season either with the Hawks or another team

Lankinen was recalled twice to Chicago last season but never got into a game. He was an AHL all-star, too, and has excelled at the pro level in Finland and on international stages.

While it was perceived that he had an up and down season last year, he was actually pretty steady as his play was in relation to the seesaw season that Delia had. Lankinen’s even-keel play instills confidence.

In comparison to Delia, Lankinen has the cool composure to not get rattled by the pressure. He lets in softies like any other goalie but it doesn't deflate the rest of his game. He's a resilient battler.

3. Collin Delia

2020-21 Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL) or Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Potential: Long-time backup who eventually earns a starting job later in his career
Trajectory: Likely competing with Kevin Lankinen for the backup role in Chicago but will be 1st string in Rockford if he falls short; could then be knocking on the NHL door by next season either with the Hawks or another team

Delia -- who played in 16 NHL games in 2018-19 and two games the season prior -- didn’t get recalled to Chicago at all in 2019-20. A family issue preoccupied his mental space to start last season but things got better off ice which translated to stronger play on the ice.

Of the goalies in the system, Delia by far has the most swagger to stand on his head to steal wins for his team. That’s a blessing and a curse, though. When he’s on, he’s unbeatable. But when he’s off, he’s a sieve.

If he can find consistency, Delia can stake his claim as a potential NHL starter. Once locked in, he tracks pucks well even in heavy traffic and gobbles up rebounds to avoid second and third chances.

2. Malcolm Subban

2020-21 Team: Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Potential: Starter
Trajectory: Likely the starter or backup in Chicago; if he’s the starter and succeeds, expect him to hold that role until Drew Commesso is ready

Subban has played exactly one minute for the Blackhawks so far. Despite this miniscule sample size in Chicago, he has the fight in him to take on big minutes for the Hawks if given the opportunity.

Every goalie wishes to be the starter and some still do well when serving as the backup instead. Subban may actually thrive more if he plays regularly. This is now his chance to prove this to be the case.

His athleticism and compete level will be two traits he will need to leverage in order to secure the starting job.

1. Drew Commesso

2020-21 Team: Boston University (NCAA)
Potential: Starter
Trajectory: Likely at least two seasons in the NCAA then two seasons in the AHL before being in the mix as at least a backup by 2024-25

Commesso may very well be the best goalie prospect the Blackhawks have had since Corey Crawford. While Commesso still has a ways to go to fulfill that prophecy, he’s on a good path starting with the U.S. National Talent Development Program and now Boston University.

Similar to Subban, Commesso is very athletic with a balance of intensity and calmness in net. And like Lankinen, Commesso has both composure and confidence to backstop his team. Commesso is intelligent, too.

Blackhawks Vice President for Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley had this to say about him: "He’s a bright kid, he’s a student of the game. A lot of times, we don’t talk about goaltenders’ hockey sense...[With] his IQ, he understands how the play develops."

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