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Blackhawks acquire Henrik Karlsson from the Calgary Flames
Karlsson, 29, is a towering 6' 6" goaltender that is a victim of a logjam in Calgary after they decided to stick with Leland Irving over their former Swedish back-up. In addition, they have a plethora of goaltending prospects coming through the pipeline which made very little room for Henrik in their organization. As a result, the Flames placed Karlsson on waivers last Thursday and the Blackhawks passed on the opportunity to claim him in order to keep their roster intact.
Over the last two years, Karlsson has played in 26 games for the Flames behind #1 netminder Miikka Kiprusoff and complied a 5-9-8 record along with a .905 save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. Although those statistics don't seem too inviting, he hasn't really had an opportunity to play with the Flames relying on Kiprusoff for over 85% of the workload coupled with poor goal support upfront.
According to the scouts, Karlsson is a prototypical butterfly Swedish goaltender that has tremendous size and patience. Although he is big, he does have solid reflexes and mobility to make a desperation save. He has a calm, confident demeanor and is not easily rattled. His transition to the North American game has not been very fluid, but he can be an effective goaltender in the right situation. At 29 years old, his time is wearing thin to make an impact in the NHL and barring injury or a trade, he won't have that opportunity this season.
With Ray Emery slotted as the back-up in Chicago, this is more of an insurance move in case of injury more than anything. Karlsson will most-likely will get an opportunity to start for the IceHogs rather than playing a role in Chicago anytime soon.
The bottom line: When Karlsson was available on waivers last Thursday, there was no need for a goaltender. Something changed since last week and the most obvious answer points to the brawl between the Rockford IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins as a catalytic moment that spurred the change, ending with Carter Hutton's unavailability to play against Texas the following game where Kent Simpson was lit up. Maybe that game was the final straw for management on the goalie situation in Rockford, after all, it has been fairly mediocre for a majority of the season.
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