Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: The Affect of Corey Crawford’s Return on Team’s Goaltenders

By Samuel Boland
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks organization and fans alike have been not-so-patiently awaiting the return of Corey Crawford since late December of last year. With a “perfect scenario” return date now set for Crawford, we take a look how this impacts the organization’s goaltender situation.

If everything goes right for longtime Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in his return, he’ll take back the number one job from Cam Ward. Corey is anticipated to return on October 18th (next week) and, should that happen, the Hawks will find themselves with an interesting decision to make sooner rather than later.

Chicago Blackhawks Goaltending Situation

Ward, the Blackhawks current starter, signed a no-movement clause with the team this summer, meaning the Blackhawks will have to choose to either demote him to backup or to take a loss on his contract and release him to free agency.

As for Anton Forsberg, the team’s current backup, the Blackhawks can choose to either release Ward and keep Forsberg on as backup or to send Forsberg down to the AHL.

The no-brainer seems to be to send Forsberg down to the AHL for a year to let him develop further as a starter.

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Forsberg struggled big time last year in goal posting a .908 SV% and a 2.97 GAA, however it was in a full-time starting role which he was thrust into unexpectedly. His performance last season proved that he isn’t ready to take on that responsibility just yet.

If he was given time as a no. 1 in Rockford, there’s a chance he could improve and become a legitimate starter.

What makes this interesting, though, is that Forsberg is on a one-way contract. This means that Forsberg would have to clear waivers in order to remain a member of the Blackhawks organization.

Forsberg’s chances of being claimed off waivers are pretty high. He’s a capable backup with a high potential upside. Though he isn’t ready to be a no. 1 right now, time and development could help him to get there one day.

He’s the type of goalie who could easily be claimed and the odds of this happening are significantly more likely now given the Los Angelas Kings are without Jonathan Quick, the Florida Panthers are without Roberto Loungo and the Pittsburgh Penguins are without Matt Murray.

So, this puts the Blackhawks in an interesting situation and my question is, what do you think they should do? (Comment below)

Do the Blackhawks roll the dice on Forsberg being picked up in waivers? Do they execute a trade? Or do they simply say thank you to Cam Ward and let his offseason begin early?

My Solution

Even if Forsberg were to clear waivers, he would shift every goalie in the Chicago Blackhawks organization down one rung on the ladder.

This means Collin Delia, who impressed far more than Forsberg did, would receive less time in net. Additionally, Kevin Lankkinen would be playing either less or against lesser competition. This isn’t ideal.

All things considering, I think the best option for the Chicago Blackhawks is to trade Anton Forsberg. Cam Ward hasn’t shown himself to be very much, but he is a big reason the Blackhawks are 2-0-1.

Their defense has been terrible excluding one pairing (which still hasn’t been perfect), and he’s been able to keep games close enough for the Chicago Blackhawks potent top-six offense.

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Clearly, Forsberg’s upside is exponentially higher than Ward’s who is 34, however I would much rather see the Blackhawks get something in return for Forsberg than to release Ward for nothing.

If I had to guess, the Blackhawks will roll the dice on Forsberg making it through waivers. That said, I believe their best solution is here is to deal Forsberg for something instead of risking losing him for nothing.

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