The Chicago Blackhawks have signed young goaltender Collin Delia to a three-year contract extension. The deal carries a cap hit of $1MM per season, and will keep Delia with the team through the 2021-22 season. Delia would have been a restricted free agent this summer.
Delia, 24, has made quite the impression in Chicago this season with a 6-2-3 record and .923 save percentage in 12 appearances. The undrafted goaltender out of Merrimack College has been quite the find, and will now get some career stability and a nice pay raise for the next few seasons. The deal will buy out one unrestricted free agent year, but will likely give Delia a chance to establish himself as a starting goaltender in the NHL. That opportunity of course is contingent on the health of Corey Crawford, something that is entirely uncertain at the moment.
The contract represents almost zero risk for the Blackhawks, given the fact that the entire cap hit could be buried in the minor leagues if necessary. It also gives them a goaltender under contract to expose in the upcoming expansion draft if necessary, though Delia may prove to be the one they want to protect by the time it rolls around. Like other goaltenders around the league—Alex Stalock, Casey DeSmith and Pheonix Copley in particular—Delia gets to take advantage of the expansion draft rules to guarantee some stability with a multi-year contract that he normally may not have received.
It’s unclear where the Blackhawks will turn for a starting goaltender if Crawford doesn’t come back healthy, but Delia will now have the inside track on that position. Cam Ward, who signed for $3MM in the summer is heading to unrestricted free agency once again, and Anton Forsberg will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. That could very well result in a lack of qualifying offer for the minor league goaltender, leaving Delia as the lone option for the team to begin next season. Still, that may lead the team to consider other options given his lack of experience. Delia has only played 14 games at the NHL level and did struggle in the minor leagues in 2017-18. It’s a nice middle ground for both sides, but doesn’t mean the Blackhawks are completely finished with the goaltending position.