Chicago Blackhawks’ Goaltending Future Murky With Crawford’s Uncertainty

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Goalie Corey Crawford
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Goalie Corey Crawford /

What does the Chicago Blackhawks’ goaltending future look like if Corey Crawford isn’t able to suit up moving forward? Based on athletes currently in the system, it’s murky at best.

I ran a poll asking my Twitter followers where help was needed most on the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks. The majority of the votes, 11 out of the 16 participants, answered that the defense needed urgent help (offense and goaltending being the other choices).

They’re right; the defense needs a lot of help right now. But fans can’t forget how the goaltending also struggled last season. Without Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks were a completely different team.

It seems that all but the internal personnel within the Blackhawks organization knows exactly what is going on with Crawford. Until then, with no concrete information on Crawford’s condition, the Blackhawks and their fans must prepare for the future. Potentially a future that does not involve Corey Crawford.

Corey Crawford

The absence of Crawford has certainly been unnerving. The lack of news and unclear updates have Blackhawks fans, well, in the same position they were in last season.

The fans are nervous. I am nervous. Nervous for the upcoming season and nervous for the future. Crawford has been one of the best goaltenders the Blackhawks have seen and ranking among the elites in Blackhawks history. But he is not invincible.

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A few weeks ago, fellow Blackhawk Up writer John Aubert reported about Ivan Nalimov, a sixth-round draft pick in 2014, who decided to terminate his contract. John closed his article with a discomforting sentence, stating, “If it can’t get better, it’s going to get worse. Right now, things are looking pretty bleak.”

So with that, let’s take a quick look at what is currently marinating in the pot of goaltenders for the Blackhawks.

Jean-Francois Berube

I know, Berube is no longer with the Blackhawks organization. Berube was traded to Columbus in exchange for forward Jordan Schroeder.

At 26 years old, Berube will now attempt to make a name for himself in Columbus. Berube started 13 games with the Blackhawks, allowing 42 goals past and posting a .894 save percentage. Regardless of whether he would remain with the organization, Berube was not the savior the Blackhawks were looking for.

Anton Forsberg

Forsberg was the backup goaltender chosen to fill the shoes of a well-loved, hometown hero Scott Darling. Unfortunately, the shoes were too big for Forsberg.

Posting a .908 save percentage last season, Forsberg continued to let in soft goals that would absolutely kill the Blackhawks in tight games. The Blackhawks may have seen all that they need to with Forsberg and the protection he would be able to  provide between the pipes.

A few honorable mentions include goaltenders Jeff Glass and Scott Foster. However, there is a future that I wanted to discuss.

Collin Delia

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The 24-year-old goaltender in Rockford started two games for Chicago Blackhawks last season. Delia went 1-1 in those two games, posting a .889 save percentage and 3.96 goals-allowed average.

After a personal conversation with a colleague, I think the Blackhawks may be looking to Delia to take the reigns at some point in the future. Delia is about the same size as Crawford with about 16 pounds separating the two. Both stand at the same height. Celebrating two Stanley Cup wins may have given Crawford the additional weight.

When Crawford first took the ice for the Blackhawks in 2006, he left posting a .878 save percentage and a 3.47 goals-against average. Crawford was back and forth between Rockford and Chicago until the 2010-11 season. After, he went on to help the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup twice. Fans should keep an eye on Delia as he develops his game.

Alexis Gravel

Our friends over at The Rink profiled the Chicago Blackhawks’ sixth-round pick, Alexis Gravel, and compared him to Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

Currently playing for Halifax in the QMJHL, Gravel posted a .917 SV percentage. Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 222 pounds, he could be a serious threat to opposing shooters. Gravel, too, is a goaltender to keep an eye on. Begin brainstorming nicknames because that last name is a piece of cake over the middle of the plate.

Also, Sunday marks the first day of the NHL free agency. Rumor has it that the Blackhawks intend to sign Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward. Mixed reviews have been heard from fans. However, if Crawford is healthy and Ward is backing him up, that’s a strong goaltending presence.

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Crawford’s value clearly much higher than previously determined. Come Sunday, the Blackhawks should have a new backup goaltender. From there, the fans will have to wait for news on Crawford. Which may remain unclear until training camp later this year.