It’s amazing we’re needing to have this discussion, but here we go: The Chicago Blackhawks will not be trading Corey Crawford, nor should they seek to trade Crow at this time.
Before and ever since Crow received his 6-year, $36 million contract, a portion of the Chicago fanbase has desired to see him traded for a dinette set and a bag of pucks. The reasons for this aren’t clear, especially considering goaltending is a huge part of what wins championships, and Crow’s goaltending has been strong enough to help the ’Hawks to a pair of Stanley Cups.
A big portion of the disdain for Crow is probably directly related to his contract, which some fans view as overpriced as soon as Crow has an off night in net.
So let’s take a look at why the ’Hawks won’t and shouldn’t move Crow anytime in the near future.
Crow was reportedly supposed to attend the NHL Awards ceremony Wednesday along with Jonathan Toews. However, Crow didn’t show, and there’s speculation that means he’ll be moved. This doesn’t make much sense, as there was basically no reason for Crow to attend the ceremony. He shared the Jennings Trophy with Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, but it’s not like Crow won the Vezina and wasn’t there (he placed sixth in final voting, for the record). He was likely told ahead of time there was no great reason for him to attend, and so he didn’t.
Da Windy City
On the opposite side 0f that spectrum, Stan Bowman wasn’t able to move defenseman Nick Leddy until right before the 2014-15 regular season began. Leddy was still participating in Blackhawks-related activities ahead of his trade, so a player missing an activity that wasn’t even meant for the entire team shouldn’t show up on anyone’s radar.
Additionally, the Edmonton Oilers are currently in the market for a starting goaltender (stunning), and somehow Crow’s name has been attached to that discussion. This is probably because some are hopefully that trading Crow to Edmonton could net the top overall pick. This is an absolutely insane belief, and there’s absolutely no discussion to back up Crow being on the trading block anyway.
That brings up another point, and leads us into why the ’Hawks shouldn’t move Crow. Yes, players need to be moved to help the ’Hawks sign Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and a few others while also staying under the salary cap. But the names that are likely to go have been out since the Cup Finals ended: Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg (not to mention free agents who won’t be brought back). These players are considered movable because they can be replaced with younger, cheaper options that won’t cause a huge dropoff.
That last point is important, whether the fans who dislike Crow will acknowledge it or not. There would very likely be a dropoff from Crow to Scott Darling or Antti Raanta, or even to any starting goalie the ’Hawks could grab from another team if they were to move Crow. Looking at the ’Hawks’ backup goaltenders, they certainly saw success in 2014-15. Raanta and Darling played in a combined 28 games last season, including 25 starts with 16 wins. But those games were against generally easy competition, as they should have been. Sure, Darling had a good couple games in the playoffs against Nashville, but that also trailed off by Game 5 of the series, when he allowed five goals in a loss.
Among goaltenders who played in more than 41 regular-season games last season, Crow ranked fifth in save percentage (.924), 10th in goals-allowed average (2.27) and second in quality-start percentage (.696). That was after he ranked sixth in goals-allowed average in 2013-14, and after he was fifth in save percentage and second in goals-allowed average among goaltenders who played in at least 24 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Also, and this bears repeating for those who seem to ignore it, he has backstopped Chicago to two Stanley Cups. He probably should have been the Conn Smythe winner in 2013. Yes, the defense around Crow is typically solid, but it’s not as though the ’Hawks are lining the goal mouth with their defensive pairings while Crow rolls around behind the net like a Mike Smith clone. Crow doesn’t make the flashy saves because he doesn’t have to. He uses solid positioning and strong technique, and he uses his defensemen to perfection to make that technique work. That’s readily apparent when Crow lets pucks rebound off his pads to safe areas of the ice for the ’Hawks defensemen to clear out. Crow doesn’t do that because he’s awful … he does that because it’s his style of goaltending, and it works.
We should, of course, address Crow’s contract as well, since it’s a point of anger for the anti-Crow party. There are eight NHL goaltenders who make more money than or the same amount of money as Crow — Henrik Lundqvist, Sergei Bobrovsky, Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Carey Price, Cam Ward, Ryan Miller and Cory Schneider. This group has combined for exactly two Stanley Cups, which were won by Ward with Carolina in 2006 and Rask with Boston in 2011. So would you rather have the flashy saves and heavy regular-season workloads some of the above goaltenders bring, which fall apart during the postseason? Or would you rather have the steady play and postseason success Crow offers?
Ultimately, those who want to see Crow traded need to cool their jets. There’s nothing out there to suggest he will be moved, and moving him would ultimately make the team worse. And that’s the truth.
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