Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An Alligator in the Blackhawks Future?

Some of you may know that I have a soft spot for goalies, because I am one. Not because I possess any great skill at the position, but because I have worn the gear for twenty years. So, when the Hawks traded for Michael Frolik and Alexander "The Alligator" Salak, I quickly became fascinated with Salak. This was not solely because he was a netminder, but because of the fact that he is from the Czech Republic, like former Blackhawk and certain Future Hall Of Famer Dominik Hasek, and played quite a few years in Finland under coach Urpo Ylönen, who also coached Miikka Kiprusoff.

If the Hawks chose to re-sign him at the end of the year, and I certainly hope they do, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be Corey Crawford's backup at the beginning of next season. I now understand why Tallon gave up on Frolik, or at least his reasoning, but I can't figure out what he found so dispensable in Salak. As I pointed out in my initial trade breakdown, he's 24 years old and has done well at every level. Salak is currently playing for Färjestad BK of the Elitserien, or Swedish Elite League, on loan from the Panthers AHL team, the Rochester Americans. Reports are that he was leading all goalies there with 6 shutouts and a .925 save percentage, which is respectable at any level. He already has a full season of North American hockey under his belt with Rochester in the AHL, where he amassed a record of 29-14-0, with a GAA of 2.89, a save percentage of .910, and one shutout. Sometimes I have a feeling about goalies, and I have that feeling about Salak. If he can keep his temper under control, He could be the next Hawks rookie goaltending sensation.

All this being said, I don't want to see Crawford go anywhere, because he seems to have ice water in his veins, and deserves serious consideration for the Calder Trophy this year. I've wanted Crawford in the net for the Hawks for 3 years. Salak is the polar opposite of Crawford, as far as style goes. He relies on his raw athleticism and emotion for success, as opposed to Crawford's basic, position based, level headed style. Neither one of these are bad, in fact I think that combination can be vital, because a team will have to change their focus based on which goaltender they are facing. With the choice of goaltenders the Hawks had in Rockford, this was an enormous pickup, because Toivonen is NOT the back up of the future; He is barely the starter in Rockford.

All that being said, I included a little highlight reel with the trade breakdown on Feb 9th, but here are some more videos to whet your appetite, goaltending fans. Just remember, you heard it here first...


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