At this point of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks have a 17-24-7 record and are likely not going to be in the playoffs this spring. With this, they also have several players with expiring contracts, so we should see them make multiple trades. One player who could bring in a decent amount of interest around the league is goaltender Kevin Lankinen.
After being the feel-good story of the Blackhawks last season, he has struggled noticeably this year. In 13 games, he has a 2-5-4 record, 3.41 goals-against average (GAA), and .889 save percentage (SV%). Yet, he still could be a very solid option for a team in need of some goaltending depth. This is especially true if he can rebound and play like how he did just last season. Four specific teams appear to be potential landing spots for him, so let’s dive into each of them.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to be on the market for a backup goaltender this trade deadline season. Although Tristan Jarry has been excellent for them, Casey DeSmith has run into some trouble this season. In 11 appearances, he has a 4-3-2 record, 3.03 GAA, and a .901 SV%. Although Lankinen has had his struggles, too, the Penguins could be interested when looking at how well he played last season. Furthermore, he only is making $800,000 for the remainder of this season, so they could keep the pair and have them compete for the backup job.
Although the idea of a Marc-Andre Fleury reunion in Pittsburgh is very nice to think about, Lankinen may be more of a realistic option for them. Ultimately, their primary goal should be to add a backup goaltender. Their roster is looking very strong, but this is the one area where they have a plethora of question marks. If the 26-year-old Finnish goaltender can play like he did last season, he would provide them with a bit more insurance and overall stability. There are also other rental candidates who the Penguins could consider, but it’s hard to find another who comes as cheap as him. Therefore, it seems that there could be a match worth exploring here.
New Jersey Devils
Although the New Jersey Devils are well out of the playoff race, general manager Tom Fitzgerald noted that they are aiming to make “hockey trades” before the deadline. His primary goal is to try to improve the Devils’ roster in the short term, and one area that could use some help is goaltending. MacKenzie Blackwood has been struggling this season, as he has a 9-9-3 record, 3.29 GAA, and .894 SV%. Jonathan Bernier has been ruled out for the rest of the year, so the 25-year-old starter hasn’t been getting a lot of much-needed rest. Perhaps bringing in a guy like Lankinen could help them in this aspect.
Yet, it would only make sense for the Devils to acquire Lankinen if they are able to sign him to a contract extension shortly after. He has the ability to be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer. However, when looking at the lingering question marks in goal for them, it could be alluring for him to re-sign with New Jersey. Blackwood’s ongoing struggles could allow him to compete for the starting job, especially if he’s able to bounce back a bit from here. Thus, perhaps this could be an avenue worth exploring for both parties.
It feels weird not to include the Edmonton Oilers in this list. Their current tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith has become a disaster. After a hot start to the season, the former has been struggling mightily over the last handful of months. The latter, on the other hand, has dealt with numerous injuries and has only been limited to nine appearances all season. Although the Oilers will be aiming for a legitimate number one option on the open market, Lankinen could be a consolation prize worth considering if they strike out on the other available options.
With his contract expiring after this season, there’s very little risk in taking a chance on Lankinen. Given his struggles this year, he also would not cost the Oilers a lot in a hypothetical swap. They had made it known that they will not be trading their first-round pick this season, so that may make acquiring a goalie like Fleury out of the question for them. At this point, they simply need to add a goaltender of any kind to help with their current issue.
At this point of the season, the Montreal Canadiens have Carey Price, Jake Allen, and Michael McNiven all out with injuries. With that, Sam Montembeault is playing through a wrist injury and may eventually need surgery for it. Cayden Primeau currently has a 1-7-1 record, 4.88 GAA, and .866 SV% this season, so the team acquired Andrew Hammond from the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. This, in turn, allowed them to send the former back to the American Hockey League (AHL). Yet, with Montembeault’s injury status in question, this could open the door for them to consider adding another goalie like Lankinen.
The Canadiens aren’t in a position where they are buyers, but it would be beneficial for them to fix their current goaltending situation. Even if Lankinen was a short-term addition for them, it would be wise to have a little more insurance. They have more goaltenders on their roster injured than not, so perhaps they could be a dark horse in the sweepstakes.
It will be interesting to see what the Blackhawks decide to do with Lankinen from here. There certainly is an argument to be had to keep him around. However, with him being a pending UFA, it would sting to lose him for nothing during the offseason. At the end of the day, it is fair to say that he could help any of these four teams if acquired by them.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.