Salak, 24, was the top goalie in the Swedish Elite League this past season, appearing in 32 games and posting seven shutouts with a 1.97 goals-against-average. Chicago acquired Salak from Florida with Michael Frolik in a February trade for Jack Skille.
Just 24 hours prior to news leaking of a deal with Salak, the Blackhawks formally announced a three-year, $8 million contract with Corey Crawford. He was the best rookie netminder in the league this year, finishing the regular season with 33 wins and four shutouts with a .917 save percentage and 2.30 GAA.
What makes these two contracts significant in Chicago is the harsh history between the pipes for the Blackhawks.
Starting the 1991-92 season, the Blackhawks had arguably the best tandem in net since Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante played together in St. Louis during the 1968-69 season. With Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour and Dominik Hasek together, the Blackhawks had two young goalies that were individually as good as anyone in the league. Together, they were good enough for the Hawks to visit the Stanley Cup Finals.
Since then, however, the Blackhawks have had one of the ugliest lists of goalies in the league.
With respect to a few gentlemen still playing in the league -- Brian Boucher, Craig Anderson and Michael Leighton -- the list of names that saw action between the pipes in Chicago was an embarrassment to the organization of Charlie Gardiner, Tony Esposito, Hall and Belfour.
Jocelyn Thibault spent five years between the pipes, but was backed up by the likes of Mark Fitzpatrick, Steve Passmore and Robbie Tallas. Jeff Hackett was a solid player, but his one season as the starter in Chicago was "aided" by the presence of Chris Terreri. And after the lockout, the years of Nikolai Khabibulin with Anderson, Boucher, and Patrick Lalime bordered on criminal.
Indeed, the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup with a 26-year-old rookie who hadn't been the starter until mid-March was poetic justice for the mismanagement of the goalie position over the previous 18 seasons.
Even though Salak has only played one year in North America, his numbers in Sweden and reported $600,000 cap number give the Blackhawks something they haven't had in 20 years: two good, young goalies under contract heading into a season.
This is just the latest example of Chicago management sprinting in the opposite direction of their predecessors, and having these two contracts done a full month before the NHL Entry Draft gives GM Stan Bowman time to work on the rest of his roster.