Back in June, news broke that Chicago Blackhawks goaltending prospect Ivan Nalimov wanted out of their system in order to receive a better chance at an NHL future. Nalimov requested for his rights to be traded despite not even having a contract with Chicago, hoping for a direct line to playing time in North America. The Blackhawks had Corey Crawford and Anton Forsberg at the time, and have also added Cam Ward since then. According to Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required), Nalimov has rescinded that trade request after speaking with the Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, and is now focused on spending the 2018-19 season in the KHL.
Nalimov will play for Kunlun Red Star this season after a tumultuous 2017-18 campaign that saw his contract terminated midseason due to the financial struggles of his former team. In 23 games split between Admiral Vladivostok and Salavat Yulaev Ufa though, he was one of the KHL’s best goaltenders with a .938 save percentage. That number is actually slightly better than Mikko Koskinen who signed with the Edmonton Oilers, and New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin who is considered one of the top goaltending prospects in the world.
While Nalimov may not have that kind of world class potential, he’s a very interesting option for the Blackhawks going forward. With Crawford’s health still up in the air and Ward on just a one-year contract, perhaps there could be an opportunity in Chicago during the 2019-20 season. Nalimov is under contract for just one season in the KHL, and hopes to come to North America afterwards. The sixth-round pick could provide an unexpected boost to the Blackhawks going forward, especially if he once again shows his skill in the KHL.