The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to a two-year contract extension with goaltender Scott Darling, reports Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. The deal keeps Darling under contract through the 2016-17 season, solidifying the team's goaltending situation for the foreseeable future.
Antti Raanta has been the primary backup to starter Corey Crawford throughout the season, but this move would seem to signal the organization's preference for Darling, who impressed during a stint in goal earlier this season while Crawford was injured.
Earlier on Sunday, following the team's ugly 6-2 loss to Boston, the 'Hawks reassigned Raanta to Rockford in order to free up a spot for Darling. That move, along with the extension, could be geared towards maximizing the team's cap space going forward.
These #Blackhawks moves have given them some more space under the salary cap. Could be a precursor to a trade.— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) February 23, 2015
This season, Raanta has a cap hit of $750,000, while Darling is at just $570,000. It's likely that the 26-year-old will get a raise with this next deal, though financial terms have not been disclosed. All we know is he got two years, and presumably at a pretty affordable rate given the lack of experience.
It's an intriguing move by GM Stan Bowman, and one that will surely deserve more attention in the near future. For now, one thing is clear, though: Darling is the main backup to Crawford.