On Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks re-assigned goaltender Jason LaBarbera to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
The Blackhawks acquired LaBarbera from the Edmonton Oilers in a mid-December trade. With injuries to goaltenders Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin, the Hawks were in need of extra depth at their goaltender position.
LaBarbera did not see any time on ice while playing with the Hawks. Rookie goaltender Antti Raanta took full advantage of his time on ice as the goaltender went 11-1-3 while playing in place of Crawford to go along with a save percentage of .911.
With Crawford returning to the Blackhawks on Thursday, LaBarbera was likely going to be the odd man out. Raanta is firmly entrenched as the Hawks backup goaltender as the result of his impressive play in place of Crawford. Meaning it is possible that Khabibulin may not see future ice time with the Hawks for the rest of the season. Khabibulin suffered a lower body injury in November and has yet to be seen since then.
But, it is no secret that Khabibulin has struggled this season. When Khabibulin has been on the ice for the Hawks, the goaltender has been a far cry from the backup goaltender that the Hawks had last season in Ray Emery. In the four games that Khabibulin has played this season, the veteran goaltender has compiled a save percentage of .811 with a 5.01 goals-against average.
Raanta will undoubtedly remain the primary backup to Crawford even if the time comes that Khabibulin is ready to return from his lower body injury. As for LaBarbera, the 33-year old veteran may return if an injury occurs to either Crawford or Raanta.