The Raanta Watch is likely over. In a stunning move, Finnish undrafted free agent goaltender Antti Raanta has reportedly signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.
— Juha Hiitelä (@jhiitela) June 3, 2013
To many fans and writers, this move comes from out of nowhere as the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets were supposedly the frontrunners in the Antti Raanta sweepstakes. Raanta, 24, represented Finland in this year’s World Championships and went 21-10-11 with a 1.85 goals against average and .943 save percentage this season in the SM-liiga with Assat Pori. That alone would earn him league MVP and Best Goalie awards. In the playoffs, his play only got better as he posted a 1.45 goals against average and .955 save percentage in claiming the Jari Kurri Trophy (essentially the Conn Smythe). It was an incredible season for him and he won nearly everything he could have possibly won.
This does come as a surprising signing for Chicago, as they have two very solid netminders in Corey Crawford and Ray Emery currently wearing the Blackhawks logo. As extra insurance, Chicago also added hulking 6’6” 209-pound Swedish goaltending giant Henrik Karlsson. Then there’s undisputed No. 1 AHL starter Carter Hutton down in Rockford and a full but less talented pool of six other goalie prospects behind him.
Considering the signing of Raanta, it only makes sense that Chicago isn’t comfortable with one or all of Emery, Karlsson or Hutton in the Blackhawks’ net next season. One thing’s for sure, after picking Chicago over Minnesota, Antti Raanta may have just made a new Wild/Blackhawks rivalry that much more interesting to watch in the coming seasons.