Blackhawks Have A Goaltending Problem Brewing
The Chicago Blackhawks currently have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL with Corey Crawford. They have one of the best feel-good stories as their backup goalie with Scott Darling. Beyond that, what is the organization’s plan for the goaltender position once Crawford’s time in Chicago is over?
Crawford, 31, still has good years left in him as a legitimate starter in the NHL, and his contract has him playing in Chicago until 2020, when he’ll be turning 35, which gives the Blackhawks a good three years to find a long-term replacement. Chicago’s recent history at the goaltender position, though, leaves one to wonder if it will continue to be a revolving door of short-term players.
Corey Crawford: Blackhawks Starter Locked In
As stated before, Corey Crawford is set to be a Blackhawk until 2020 with his current contract, making him an unrestricted free agent at the age of 35. Since being drafted by Chicago in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Crawford has been one of the few players at the position that Chicago has grown through its minor-league system.
After playing four seasons with the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL, Crawford joined the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, in 2005 before the affiliate changed to the Rockford IceHogs in 2006. Crawford developed and waited his turn to make his impact for the organization at the NHL level, playing in a handful of NHL games in spot appearances from 2005 to 2010.
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After Antti Niemi left the organization in 2010, Crawford was given the opportunity to become the Blackhawks’ regular starter and ran with that opportunity, going 33-18-6 with a 2.30 GAA and .917 save percentage. Since his first season as a full-time starter, Crawford has won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, two William M. Jennings trophies and is a two-time NHL All-Star.
The signs all point up for Crawford as he enters his seventh season as the Blackhawks starter in 2016-17, but for how much longer can the organization rely on him to be their answer in between the pipes?
Only Roberto Luongo and Ryan Miller played more than 40 games this season over the age of 35, and since 2010, Martin Brodeur, Evgeni Nabokov, Tomas Vokoun, Tim Thomas, Miikka Kiprusoff, Jose Theodore, Nikolai Khabibulin and Dwayne Roloson have done the same. In most of those players’ cases, the team they started for was not a Stanley Cup contender, so if the Blackhawks want to continue competing as one of the Stanley Cup favorites, Crawford will have to stay healthy and stay dominant. No easy task.
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