Anton Forsberg traded from Columbus to Chicago
The first deal to hit the news Friday morning was one that sent Columbus Blue Jackets’ minor league netminder Anton Forsberg to Chicago as part of a multi-player swap highlighted by the exchange of high-end forwards Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad.
Forsberg, 24, is a pending restricted free agent who has spent most of the past three seasons with the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League teams. In that time he has been one of the top AHL goaltenders, putting up a .923 save percentage in 126 games. In 2015-16, Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to a Calder Cup championship, playing ahead of the highly touted Korpisalo in the Final.
In Chicago, Forsberg should get a chance to replace backup Scott Darling, who was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes and re-signed rather than testing free agency. Forsberg has been a big part of a Columbus depth chart that might be the best in hockey between the pipes but struggled in brief call ups to the NHL.
Forsberg has a .879 save percentage in 10 appearances over the past three seasons. That includes giving up four goals on 23 shots in his lone appearance last season, when he was called up ahead of Korpisalo after backup Curtis McElhinney was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs because he had outplayed Korpisalo in the AHL, only to swap spots after a tough first outing.
Forsberg is like a how-to manual for technically goaltenders but despite outperforming Korpisalo in the minor leagues, most NHL goalie coaches and scouts think the more dynamic Korpisalo has a higher upside. With Korpisalo and two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus, and Oscar Dansk and Elvis Merzlikins still part of the organization while playing overseas, there wasn’t enough room to keep Forsberg, who would also have required waivers to be sent to the AHL next season.
Forsberg’s expiring contract saw him making $650,000 at the NHL level (and $100,000 at the AHL level), slightly more than Darling’s $587,000 cap hit in 2016-17. According to CapFriendly.com, a qualifying offer for Forsberg would need to be $715,000.
Given his waiver status, Forsberg is expected to step in as longtime starter Corey Crawford’s backup in Chicago, leaving Jeff Glass to mind the net with the AHL Rockford IceHogs.
Chicago will still need to fill out their depth chart, either by re-signing their pending unrestricted free agents Mac Carruth and Lars Johansson, or by acquiring other goalies.