Antti Raanta, Chicago Blackhawks

During Corey Crawford’s recent absence due to injury, something peculiar has happened.  Antti Raanta, the nominal backup to Crawford, hasn’t played in many of the games. His supposed backup, Scott Darling, has seen the majority of the playing time since Crawford went down.

What’s Q’s angle?

It can’t simply be the numbers, as Raanta has a .942 save percentage compared to Darling’s .939, while Crawford has posted a .929 SV% in a larger body of work. Nonetheless, all three goalies have solid save percentages this year. Yes, Raanta has a higher goals against average (2.02 compared to 1.80), but that shouldn’t be a reason for him to fall in the depth chart.

Are the Blackhawks dangling Raanta as trade bait?

Obviously, Q likes what he sees in Darling, who, to his credit, has played as well as anyone could imagine coming in for the twice injured Crawford. But, Raanta has played well too. Could the Blackhawks brain trust be trying to keep Raanta healthy to use as trade bait?

With three quality goaltenders in the system, and Crawford under contract until 2020, it’s not inconceivable that Stan Bowman might want to flip one of the young guys for some draft picks, since this is an area the Blackhawks have been able to thrive in the past few years.

That begs the question, who would be interested in trading for Raanta?  Teams with a long-term goaltender are out, which would include the likes of LA, Montreal and Boston, among others. Teams with their own young goalie, like Anaheim, wouldn’t be in the market either. It’s hard to believe that Stan would trade him to a division rival, such as St. Louis or Minnesota, so they’re out.

All of this is conjecture anyway, but it’s still very interesting that Darling has seen three straight starts and will almost certainly play one game of this weekend’s back-to-back games in New York and against Calgary.

Is Quenneville just riding the hot hand or is this a case of where there’s smoke, there’s fire?

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