The goaltending depth chart continues to grow for the Blackhawks as Renaud P. Lavoie from RDS reported this evening that Mac Carruth has signed an entry level contract with the organization.
Carruth, drafted by the Hawks in the 7th round (191st overall) in the 2010 draft, had an outstanding year in net for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. In the regular season, he appeared in 63 games and recorded a 2.96 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. He went 42-17-2-0 and racked up two shutouts along the way. He helped the Winterhawks advance to the WHL Finals, where they lost to the Edmonton Oil Kings in seven games. In game seven of that series, he made 28 of 32 saves in the 4-1 loss. Overall in the post season, the Shorewood, Minnesota native appeared in 22 games and posted a 2.89 GAA and .918 save percentage with a record of 15-6-1-0. He also shutout his opponents twice.
With Carruth’s signing, the Hawks now have five netminders under contract through the 2012-13 season. The other four netminders are Corey Crawford, Ray Emery, Alexander Salak, and Alec Richards. The other goaltenders in the system, Carter Hutton and Kent Simpson, are not under contract. Hutton is a restricted free agent this summer and Simpson needs to be signed to a deal or his rights will be relinquished.
This plethora of goalies means there will be a lot of competition for playing time, especially in the AHL. It goes without saying, but Crawford and Emery will be the goalies in Chicago, barring anything strange happening from now until opening night. Salak, Richards, Carruth, and possibly both or one of Hutton or Simpson, will all be battling to grab the two spots in Rockford.
Salak and Richards were the starting duo for the IceHogs at the beginning of the 2011-12 season. They both didn’t have the best of starts and traded off playing time until Salak was injured on December 2nd in a game against the Lake Erie Monsters. Hutton was then recalled from Toledo, took hold of the number one spot not long after, and was a key component to the Hogs’ second half turnaround. When Salak returned, Richards was sent to Toledo. To round it all out, Simpson started the last game of the season for Rockford.
For a comparison of stats, Hutton appeared in 43 games for the IceHogs, going 22-13-4-3 with a 2.35 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Salak played in 21 games, went 6-10-0-0, and had a 2.69 GAA and a .903 save percentage. Richards played in 22 games for Rockford, went 7-11-2-0, and put up a 3.55 GAA and .893 save percentage. With Toledo, Richards appeared in 21 games, went 8-12-0-1, and have a 3.74 GAA and .887 save percentage. Simpson, in the lone game in a Hogs sweater, lost in a shootout but recorded a 2.85 GAA and .927 save percentage. During the regular season while he was with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, he appeared in 60 games and posted a 3.33 GAA and .909 save percentage. In four playoff games, his GAA was 4.00 and his save percentage was .883.
In other words, if the Hawks let Hutton and Simpson go, chances are Salak and Carruth will be the Rockford keepers-of-the-twine and Richards will be in Toledo again. But it’s a long summer, and anything can happen. Ultimately, everything gets decided on the ice, starting at training camp.