Blackhawks goaltender prospect Kevin Lankinen will miss four-to-five months after having surgery on his left shoulder Monday. It’s the same shoulder Lankinen had troubles with this past season.
Lankinen went 8-10-2 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in 21 games this season. He made 16 saves in the first period against the Manitoba Moose on Feb. 13 at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg before exited the game.
The 24-year-old, who was Rockford’s lone representative at the 2020 AHL All-Star Game, is set to become a restricted free agent this summer and is eligible for arbitration.
Collin Delia will be Rockford’s No. 1 goaltender for the rest of the season, while Matt Tomkins will be his backup.
Delia, who signed a three-year contract worth $1 million per season in February 2019, is 15-12-1-2 with a 2.74 GAA and .910 save percentage in 28 games after a slow start to the season. Tomkins is 5-7-0-0 with a 3.15 GAA and .897 save percentage in 12 games this season. He signed his first NHL contract in January, a two-year deal worth $1.4 million.
“From my perspective he’s a great friend and I want him to have the same opportunity as Tomer and I,” Delia said about Lankinen. “With the [three-goalie rotation] system we had it was challenging at times, but it’s really hard when you see a teammate get injured for the rest of the year.
“If I was in that position it’d be really challenging, especially with him being in a contract year coming up. I can only imagine what’s going on in his head. I just really feel for the guy because it’s not an easy situation to be in, especially playing as well as he did this year. Knowing at times that he wasn’t at 100 percent to see what he was able to do is pretty cool, so I hope the Hawks give him another chance and re-sign him this summer.”
Rockford coach Derek King is confident with Delia and Tomkins in net.
“All three goalies have been solid,” King said. “With some of our losses you might think the goalies weren’t that good, but we didn’t help them. We gave the other teams way too much time and space.”
The IceHogs (28-29-1-2) are one point back of the San Antonio Rampage (Blues) for the fourth and final Calder Cup playoff spot in the Central Division. Rockford plays the rest of its schedule exclusively against divisional opponents.
The IceHogs play three straight games starting Friday against the third-place Grand Rapids Griffins at 7 p.m. at the BMO Harris Bank Center.