Corey Crawford’s Future With the Blackhawks Remains Unclear
By John Aubert
Corey Crawford has been the shining light for the Chicago Blackhawks over the years. No matter the criticism that has been dealt his way, he helped this team climb to three Stanley Cup championships in six years as their number one goaltender. However, with injuries plaguing him lately, what does his future look like with the Blackhawks?
Crawford has been the pinnacle of success for this team since the 2012-13 season. Yes, the team’s core was phenomenal and helped shape the image of what hockey in Chicago could bring to the NHL, but he was the solid root that allowed this tree to blossom.
Crawford has had impressive stats throughout his career, including a 2.42 GAA and a .918 SV%. During his 12-year NHL career, he has proven to be Chicago’s faithful netminder. However, considering recent circumstances, has that finally come to an end?
The last time Corey Crawford played a full season’s worth of games was in 2016-17, where he had a 2.55 GAA and a .918 SV%. Since then, he’s been plagued with injuries. This has caused the Blackhawks to place their faith in backup goaltenders and rest their prayers on their shoulders. The following season in 2017-18, he only played in 28 games. This season, after he returned from the injured reserve, Crawford would suffer yet another concussion which limited him to 39 games.
Now, Crawford hasn’t been lackluster in his returns from injury. That’s not the case at all. In fact, he had a 14-18-5 record with a .908 SV% coming off of injury this season.
Lately, he has seemed worn down at times, but that’s to be expected with the defensive efforts this team has seen over the past two seasons. You can’t put the blame entirely on his shoulders.
With frequent injuries inadvertently impeding Crawford’s progress, would it be wise for the Blackhawks to eventually trade or let him go once his contract is up? This is a very controversial subject since Crow has been a vital piece to the team’s success.
The 2019-20 season is Crawford’s last season under contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. He becomes a UFA next summer.
He currently has a $6M cap hit and it’s understandable to question the worth of that contract. Certainly, a goaltender who is playing under 40 games a season should never be getting paid that much money. Although, it’s not his fault he keeps sustaining concussions.
If the Blackhawks were to part ways with the respected goaltender, whether he continues to sustain injuries or doesn’t play up to par, it wouldn’t be a shock that Stan Bowman came to the conclusion to let him go. Crawford could also become trade bait which Bowman has a track record of doing.
Are the Blackhawks In Good Hands?
If this conclusion was made, the Blackhawks are arguably in good hands for the time being. With Colin Delia, who signed a $3M contract through 2021-22, the current goaltending situation seems okay — for now.
Delia has a lot of potential as an eventual starting goaltender, but he needs time to gain the confidence to become a true starter. However, it doesn’t seem like he’s at that level yet.
In a best-case scenario, the Blackhawks negotiate Crawford’s contract and reason with him on a lower salary cap hit. If he stays healthy this year, maybe he gets a lengthy extension. On the other hand, maybe Crawford becomes riddled with injuries and the Blackhawks decide to use their prospect tree to the wire. Another possible option is to sign a younger, talented goaltender in the league at a reasonable price.
There are so many different ways this situation can play out. Maybe, the Blackhawks need to contact Dr. Strange on this one.
Either way, Corey Crawford’s future with the team remains unknown to the highest extent.