Forsberg confident he can be a quality backup goalie for Blackhawks

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Although he didn't see much action with the Columbus Blue Jackets, goalie Anton Forsberg has won a Calder Cup in the AHL and believes he can play at the NHL level behind Blackhawks start Corey Crawford.

    Although he didn't see much action with the Columbus Blue Jackets, goalie Anton Forsberg has won a Calder Cup in the AHL and believes he can play at the NHL level behind Blackhawks start Corey Crawford. Associated Press/2016 file

  • Former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Anton Forsberg blocks a shot by Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Faulk during an NHL game.

    Former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Anton Forsberg blocks a shot by Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Faulk during an NHL game. Associated Press/2016 file

  • Carolina Hurricanes' Jay McClement (18) is blocked by former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Anton Forsberg, during a game in January. Forsberg is now a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Carolina Hurricanes' Jay McClement (18) is blocked by former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Anton Forsberg, during a game in January. Forsberg is now a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Associated Press/2017 file

 
 
Updated 6/30/2017 8:34 AM

Over the past six seasons, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has had the good fortune of having a capable backup goalie at his disposal.

Whether Quenneville inserted Ray Emery, Antti Raanta or Scott Darling, the veteran coach knew each one could get the job done.

 

One of the big questions of next season will be whether or not Quenneville will be able to add Anton Forsberg to that impressive list. Forsberg, whom the Hawks acquired from Columbus along with Brandon Saad last week, has been anointed Corey Crawford's backup despite appearing in just 10 NHL games.

"We're very optimistic about the potential for Anton," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "We like his profile as a goalie. He's a big guy (6-foot-3, 191 pounds). He takes up a lot of the net. He's certainly got that mobility; he's able to make good positional saves, as well as athletic saves."

Hawks fans are certainly hoping so because backups have started an average of 26 games in the six 82-game seasons since Crawford became the starter.

Forsberg's NHL resume is awfully thin, but what does exist on paper isn't exactly impressive as he owns a 1-8-0 record with an .879 save percentage and a 4.02 goals-against average. In one of those games, he allowed 4 first-period goals to Tampa Bay in a 7-4 loss on Nov. 8, 2014.

But the 24-year-old Swede, who helped lead the Lake Erie Monsters (now Cleveland) to a Calder Cup in 2016, doesn't lack for confidence.

"I know I haven't played a lot in the NHL so far, and my numbers aren't great," Forsberg said in a conference call Friday. "But I played a lot in the AHL, and I feel like I've put up some good things there with the Calder Cup two years ago. ... I feel like I've gained a lot of experience during that time and I'm ready to take the next step. I'm real happy with the opportunity with the Blackhawks."

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Forsberg's only NHL victory came when he entered for the injured Curtis McElhinney and played just four minutes and five seconds in a 5-4 shootout win over Washington on Jan. 2, 2016. He made 6 saves in OT and stopped 2 of 3 shots in the shootout to end a wild, wacky day.

"My day started with a call-up," Forsberg said. "I flew in (and) lost my gear but it showed up in time. I wasn't expected to play, so I did my pregame routines, showed up to the game and I knew I wasn't playing. …

"Once (McElhinney) went down in overtime … I just had to go in and play my game and try to (make) the best out of the situation. It turned out well."

After the Monsters won the Calder Cup in 2016, Forsberg continued his strong play last season in the AHL (27-17-2, .926, 2.28), leading Bowman to believe Forsberg can take the next step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"He's been there for three seasons and now he's earned the right to be an NHL goalie," Bowman said. "We've obviously got a tremendous number one goalie in Crawford, and Corey's going to have the lion's share of the work. But it's time for Anton to get a chance to be that number two and (we'll) have a great tandem moving forward."

Darling always credited Crawford for helping him become a more complete goalie, and Forsberg is hoping the same thing happens.

"Obviously he's a really good goalie," Forsberg said. "He's got two Stanley Cups, which is really, really good, and I've seen him play a lot on the TV.

"So I'm really looking forward to working with him and learning from him."

• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh

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