Antti Raanta, G
Hometown: Rauma, Finland
Drafted: Free Agent signed by Chicago
June 2014 – Raanta’s first professional season in North America was an overwhelming success. Emerging as Corey Crawford’s full time back up following Nikolai Khabibulin’s injury in November, Raanta posted decent numbers as a rookie. While his cumulative stats suffered as a result of a weak finish, he filled in admirably during a Crawford injury, winning Rookie of the Month honours for December 2013. As is often the case with goalies in fantasy, situation can be much more important than talent. And as far as situation goes, it does not get much better than playing behind the Blackhawks. Raanta will head into 2014-15 as the primary backup and will get an opportunity to pile up wins should Crawford miss significant time. Matt Donohue
November 2013- Raanta has been recalled by Chicago from Rockford, where he had a 2.83 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in 12 AHL games. Despite his underwhelming minor-league numbers, Raanta has made a positive first impression in North America. Nicolai Khabibulin has not played well at all behind Corey Crawford, perhaps creating an opportunity for the talented Raanta. Rich Dillon
September 2013- As expected Raanta has been re-assigned to Rockford. His first NHL camp had it’s share of ups and downs which is no surprise given all the adjustments he needed to make coming from Finland. Smaller ice, smaller pads, faster, and more talented players all add up to some growing pains. Still, Raanta showed that he should make the transition just fine in due time. He should be the starter in Rockford and will push for a call-up should Khabibulin find himself sidelined with an injury, which is always a real possibility. Rex Doty
September 2013- The recent contract extension for starter Corey Crawford takes a bit of wind out of Raanta’s sails for now. Many hoped that Raanta would establish himself this season and that Crawford would either stumble or, more likely, price himself out of Chicago next season. With the latter option off the table Raanta can still put himself in a good position going forward. With a strong performance in Rockford, Raanta is still just an injury away from playing in Chicago. With the Blackhawks relying on an injury-prone 40-year old backup in Nikolai Khabibulin it’s almost a certainty the chance will come. If Raanta delivers on his promise he can still find himself a good starting gig elsewhere via trade or free agency down the road. In the meantime, Ray Emery proved that a 1A/1B with Crawford can still be profitable for fantasy owners. Rex Doty
July 2013- Raanta is one of eight goalies invited to Team Finland’s 2014 Olympic orientation camp. He will have to buck the longest of odds to win a spot as he’s competing with the likes of Rinne, Rask, Lehtonen, and Niemi among others for the chance to represent Finland at Sochi. Still it’s quite the honor given the wealth of superb Finnish netminders playing in top leagues around the world. Back on this side of the pond, Raanta is making his first visit to the States as he prepares for the upcoming AHL season where he will compete with Mac Carruth and Kent Simpson for the starting job in Rockford. As long as Raanta can adapt to the smaller ice over here there’s little reason to think he won’t beat out both Carruth and Simpson for the first chair. After that he’s just an injury away from seeing NHL minutes. Rex Doty
June 2013- The Blackhawks signed the standout Finnish goalie to a one-year deal. The 24-year old Raanta has spent the last four seasons playing in the SM-Liiga, most recently for Åssåt. Raanta earned league MVP honors, and well pretty much every award possible in the league, and led Åssåt to the SM-Liiga title this past season. He’s shown steady and marked improvement each of his four seasons in Finland’s top league. He’ll start out in Rockford, but he won’t have much in the way of competition for the backup role behind Crawford aside from free agent-to-be Ray Emery. Watch Raanta closely, if he can make the transition to the North American game quickly he may be Crawford’s backup as soon as this season. Rex Doty
Fantasy Outlook: B+
Possesses good positioning, durability, and competitiveness. There is the unknown of how he will adapt to the smaller ice and faster, more accurate shooters in the North American game, but he should do well in that regard.
Antti Raanta SM-Liiga highlights:
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