Blackhawks Goalies Control Their Own Fate

By Joe Kremel

Crawford is keenly aware of his situation. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With all the trade talks going on today, it makes you take a step back and look at the Blackhawks options. While the Hawks weren’t buyers today, it could be different come summer.  Looking at a players performance is always a good thing; you can break down mistakes and praise good decision making.  I’m sure they went over the Nashville game with Corey Crawford, and he would probably like to have the both goals back.  With one mishandled cover up, he brought horrible OT playoff memories surging back.  In general, Crow has been making the big saves, but some of the easier ones have eluded him.  Right now Crawford is sporting a solid 1.97 goals against average, and a .925 save percentage, which puts him above the .910 league average.  He is currently being backed up by Ray Emery who is on the last season of his contract.  Emery is sporting a 2.09 GAA and a .919 Sv% which again puts our goalies above league average.  The Blackhawks have fully supported their goalies and Q still stands behind Crawford, and rightfully so, he still is overall playing well. Crawford has another season with the team, and while the Blackhawks brass say that he’s the number one guy, their actions over the summer showed doubt.

Before the lockout, Bowman was talking with the LA Kings about their backup, Jonathan Bernier, who is on his final year of his contract.  Bernier has a 1.95 GAA and a .919 Sv% which puts him right up there statistically, but keep in mind the kings struggled a lot early on this season.  Currently, Bernier’s cap hit is 1.2 million and is due for a raise next signing.  This still puts him within range of the Hawks, depending on moves they make over the summer.  Bernier is a legitimate option, but he comes with a price; he wants to be the #1 goalie.  Bernier has been vocal about his displeasure with the way his career has been handled and is more than willing to get out of the shadow of Jonathan Quick, even if the money isn’t the huge paycheck he might want.  This may not even need to be considered if Crow can prevent the massive mental lapses that he displayed last year in the postseason.  Another viable option would be Tampa Bay’s newly acquired net minder, Ben Bishop, who is also on the last year of his contract.  His cap hit is currently 625k, and again, is due for a raise.  Bishop is a 6’7” monster of a goalie who has been stuck backing up star goalies like Halak and Anderson.  As of this writing, Bishop hasn’t signed an extension with his new team, and with the cap going down next season, his new contract could be modest and short term with room to improve in his next signing.  Bishop has always seemed to have our number, he is fairly quick for a big guy, and his size and speed are great assets for a goalie.  As we saw today with the trade deadline coming to a close, Bowman doesn’t like to trade his prospects or break up the current roster, so we may need to look in our own system.

Right now we have 3 goalies worth noting. When Carter Hutton was first acquired by Rockford, he had back-to-back shutouts, which really sparked some hope for our in the net depth.  Currently, Hutton’s stats are decent at best, 2.79 GAA and .907 Sv%.  The hogs went on a slide and didn’t help their goalies out in that losing streak.  Earlier this year, the Hawks traded for goalie Henrik Karlsson, another 6’7” monster of a man.  Karlsson played for Calgary but his stats throughout his professional career have been average at best; maybe his size alone raises expectations.  This season with the Hogs he has sported a 2.79 GAA and a .907 Sv%.  While I think he could be a suitable back up, especially at 615k, he still isn’t going to steal the job from Crow. The other prospect is currently with the Portland Winterhawks.  Mac Carruth is signed with us for a few more years and is developing nicely. His career stats have gotten better each year and finished up his season with a 30-7-0 record, though there is no reason to jump the gun and risk his development.

The season is winding down, and with a variety of options available, Crow and Emery are in control of their futures. While we are all upset with Crow’s Nashville performance, we tend to forget that he still made some big saves when all the momentum was with the Preds.  Crow was given the nod earlier today for the start against the Blues where we can expect a bounce back performance. What do you think of the Blackhawks options? Will Emery be back next season? Will there be a trade to come next summer?