Selected: 52nd overall, 2003 draft
Instead, Blackhawks select: G Jimmy Howard (64th overall, Detroit Red Wings)
This one is pretty tough to redraft. Part of it is because I don’t really want to imagine the Blackhawks not taking Crow, but another part of it is the redraft options are pretty unappealing.
This was not a good draft for goaltenders. Marc-Andre Fleury was taken first overall this year, but after him, only Crow and Howard are drafted goaltenders who have had any extended NHL experience. And since I don’t want to entertain the idea of the Blackhawks instead drafting David Backes (62nd overall), let’s go to Howard.
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Howard cracked the NHL a little sooner than Crow, jumping into Detroit’s starting spot in 2009-10. You might recognize that as the season the Blackhawks were trying to figure out what to do with their goaltending situation as Cristobal Huet was struggling mightily and Antti Niemi was unproven.
Howard was a 37-game winner in 2009-10, still a career high for him. He finished eighth in Vezina Trophy voting and second in Calder Trophy voting. So maybe Howard breaks in around the same time with Chicago, spelling Huet and helping Chicago to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Then what?
Crow broke into the league full time in 2010-11, and he has been critical to the Blackhawks’ success in the regular season and playoffs. Without Crow, the Blackhawks might not have won the Stanley Cup in either 2013 or 2015.
So maybe the team would’ve been well off with Howard for a brief spell, but Crow longer-term was a far better draft choice.