One of the few bright spots of the Blackhawks 2018-19 season was the emergence of Collin Delia as a seemingly legitimate goaltender. A relative unknown prospect who was a UDFA out of college and is literally from a town in California called Rancho Cucamonga, if you told anyone that you knew Collin Delia had a future in the NHL before this year you’d be a liar. But Delia was a pleasant surprise when Crawford went down and might’ve played himself into the future of this franchise in one way or another. Let’s do this.
16 GP – .908 SV% – 3.61 GAA
.916 SV% at Evens – .853 SV% on the PK
It Comes With a Free Frogurt
For a guy who was in college two years ago and couldn’t even crack a .900 SV% in the ECHL in 2017-18, to see Delia come to the NHL and have stop shots at what I remember as a .940 clip for a short while was extremely confusing and almost jarring. My original thought when Crawford went down and we were in the hands of Cam Ward and a guy named Collin but with two fuckin’ L’s, I thought the Hawks were gonna be leading the Jack Hughes race come the end of the season. But he proved to be nothing if not reliable, and while the astronomical save rate dropped quickly as you can see above, he was still more than acceptable and even very good at even strength.
That .916 you see at evens above is all even strength situations, and that is more than fine, but his .925 rate at 5v5 is damn near elite – it ranked 24th total in the NHL among goalies with at least 600 minutes played, tied with Carey Price and better than Braden Holtby. Being 24th doesn’t sound great, but remember this guy was in his first real NHL action and the difference between him being 24th or being in the top 10 is .005%, or half a goal every 100 shots. And that’s when the game is being played as intended.
It’s hard to say if it means anything quite yet, and I’m certainly not going to go crowning him as the future franchise goalie seeing as this was only 16 games. But the Hawks clearly saw enough in him to commit a 3-year deal to him, even if it is a relatively insignificant $1-mildo cap hit per year. That contract has potential to be really beautiful regardless of how he turns out in the future, because if you have a reliable backup on that kinda cheap deal it can be a huge win, and if he ends up as your future franchise goalie you have him locked up for two years beyond Crawford’s deal very cheap and can add elsewhere to make a run. It’s easy to bury as well, so it’s virtually no lose for the Hawks.
The Frogurt is Also Cursed
It’s hard for me to find much to say too negatively about Delia considering there were not many expectations for him and he only played 16 games, but there were certainly times that I found myself scratching my head at his play. He had the same problem I mentioned Ward having yesterday, which was the tendency to miss a save that 99% of other goalies would’ve made, but in fairness to both he and Ward, just about every goalie has a few of those a year anyway. Now, the rate at which Delia had them over just 16 games can certainly be concerning, but I want to see more before I make a call on that.
Overall I think the biggest issue with Delia in 2018-19 was just that we didn’t get to see as much of him as we should’ve. Ward being here and having an NMC made it impossible to have Delia around when Crawford was healthy, and the Hawks were never gonna sit Crawford if he was able to play. So even when it would’ve made far more sense to have Delia here rather than Ward in the backup role, we didn’t get to see that, and that left us (or at least me) wanting to see more than we were able to.
Again, it’s way too early to make any sweeping statements about Delia, but at the very least he should be considered a lock for the backup gig next year, and he gave us enough good to be intrigued enough to see more next year.