Raanta was called up after goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury in the Blackhawks’ 7-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was unsure of the extent of Khabibulin’s injury, but Quenneville said he could be out “a bit.”
The 24-year-old Raanta was 7-5-0 with a 2.83 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 14 games for the IceHogs. He started for the IceHogs on Saturday and made 35 saves in a 4-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage in Rockford.
The Blackhawks signed Raanta to a one-year deal in June after he was voted the regular-season and playoff MVP of the SM-liiga in Finland. He had a 21-10-11 record, 1.85 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in the regular season and a 1.45 goals-against average and 955 save percentage in the playoffs.
“I think we looked at signing [Raanta] as a move for the future,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in June. “He's a young guy. He's 24 years old and hopefully he can adjust to North America quickly. Sometimes that takes a little bit of time, so we're not trying to rush him into anything. You know, obviously hockey is hockey, but the size of the rink is smaller over here, the style of play is a little bit different, so as a goaltender that can take some time. So, we want to allow for that transition and if it happens quickly, that's great.”
Raanta began the season in the AHL partly to get him accustomed to the smaller hockey rinks in North America. IceHogs coach Ted Dent thought Raanta has been successful in making that transition.
“It’s an adjustment period for sure for anybody, especially some of those players who are used to playing on Olympic-sized ice sheets,” Dent said by phone on Sunday. “It’s a different game. It’s a different level. It’s different rinks. It’s a different way of playing.
“Raanta has played good for the most part. He’s had some really good outings. I think traditionally he’s come on strong in the second half of the year once he’s gotten into a groove. I think a lot of goalies are like that.
“I think he’ll do good. Hopefully, he’ll get a look up there. Hopefully, he gets some minutes at some point. I wish him the best.”