The Chicago Blackhawks organizational depth at the goaltender position has been lacking for much of the last decade. It hasn’t caused too many problems, given Corey Crawford’s stranglehold on the position when healthy.
But one goalie prospect has been making his name known throughout the organization with some stellar outings: Collin Delia. If the Rockford IceHogs qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs this season, much of the credit will go to Delia.
Blackhawks goalie prospect Collin Delia has made 120 saves on 124 shots for a .968 save percentage in his last four starts for the IceHogs.— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) March 14, 2018
Delia, a 23-year-old California native, spent the prior three seasons at Merrimack College before signing with the Hawks last July. That contract was the result of a strong junior season (.927 save percentage in 21 games) and an impressive performance at prospect camp last summer.
But this season didn’t begin as well for Delia. He started with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL and his numbers weren’t great: 10 games played, a 1-7-2 record, 4.12 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. But the injuries to Crawford forced a series of moves across the Hawks organization, and Delia was called up to Rockford. After a disastrous first outing in early November, Delia got his second start Dec. 28 and defeated the Iowa Wild.
From there, it’s been a stretch of strong performances from Delia, who might have played his way into a starting role should the IceHogs make the Calder Cup Playoffs. Since Jan. 6, Delia has made 16 starts for Rockford with an 11-2-3 record. In back-to-back games last week, he made a total of 71 saves while allowing just one goal, earning AHL Player of the Week honors.
Overall, Delia’s numbers with Rockford this season (11-6-2, 2.64 GAA, .904) are second only to Jean-Francois Berube, who’s busy with a goalie platoon for the Hawks with Anton Forsberg. Jeff Glass is the other goalie in Rockford right now, and he’s had an up-and-down stretch during the last month since being sent back to the AHL following his stint with the Blackhawks. Glass did make 23 saves in a 2-1 overtime win last Saturday, but he also gave up 10 goals combined during two starts in late February.
Delia was at it again Tuesday night, making a crucial late save that helped the IceHogs come back for a 3-2 overtime win against the Wild.
With Delia leading the way, the IceHogs have won five of their last seven games. Rockford now sits two points behind the Grand Rapids Griffins for a playoff spot, although the Griffins have a game in hand, which they’ll play on Wednesday night against the same Wild team that Rockford defeated on Tuesday.
A postseason for Rockford gives Delia a chance for more game experience, along with other prospects like Gustav Forsling, Luc Snuggerud and Anthony Louis.
But from a wider perspective, Delia’s emergence has given the Hawks’ organization something it hasn’t had often in the last decade: a minor league goaltender worth keeping an eye on.