With the New York Rangers buying out Henrik Lundqvist’s last year of his contract, it sparks the conversation of him being a fit with the Chicago Blackhawks.
There are countless questions surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks and the direction of their immediate future. Do they attempt to compete at the highest level possible or recognize that more time for development could be of benefit?
Regardless of how they choose to address the overly simplistic contemplation that every team faces each offseason, they still have a roster to fill out. Amongst the potentially vacant positions is the one in their crease.
Chicago offered Corey Crawford a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. Apparently, he didn’t think it was as fair as they did, evidenced by not accepting the offer. Now management must contemplate whether they want to give him more or see him walk.
Crow Could Fly
If the Blackhawks expect to compete next season, they can make a case for adding Crawford back into the mix. He’d re-join veterans like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in attempting to get back to their glory days from the 2010s.
On the other hand, if the higher-ups foresee a longer-term plan for more sustainable success versus trying to squeeze out the last bit from this crew, then it might be time to let Crawford seek a bigger payday elsewhere.
Chicago isn’t in a position to be careless with their financials. They’ve seen an obvious downturn of success and simply can’t afford to spend if it’s not as strategic as possible. They need to get more return for their investments.
With that said, this could finally be Collin Delia‘s chance. He might take over control of their crease and get a real sample size of action to work with. He could then do his part to create further cohesion alongside the youth who are making their mark on this team.
In that scenario, there’s still a case to be made for having a proven leader to mentor whoever fills their net. If Crawford isn’t in Chicago next season, there’s no shortage of veteran goalies that would be looking for ways to extend their careers.
Bringing in the King
This is where a name like Henrik Lundqvist further fuels the rumour mills. After the New York Rangers announced that they bought out Lundqvist’s final year on his contract, the franchise’s all-time winningest goalie became available to the next highest bidder.
There’s no debate that Lundqvist has enjoyed a marvellous career thus far. He’s played 887 games, earned 64 shutouts, and is 41 victories shy of joining the 500 win club. All that said, Lundqvist has yet to win the ultimate prize of a Stanley Cup.
Although he may be looking to join a contender with hopes to finally earn one, it’s tough to assume any team that will be in reach for the foreseeable future would be seeking a 38-year-old to protect their net. Those clubs will likely be led by youth.
So, where does Lundqvist fit? He has value, there’s no doubt, but it may just not be as a starter. He might be able to get a minimum offer, both in term and financials, to join a lineup that could use his reputation to motivate those around him.
Let’s circle back to what Chicago will be looking to accomplish next year. If they direct their ship towards further development and Crawford chooses to head ashore, the Blackhawks could make sense of signing a quality goalie on a lower end deal.
An Attitude to Avoid
With all that said, Chicago can do better than letting Lundqvist into their locker room. It’s not that he hasn’t showcased how good of a goalie he’s been over the course of his career, but more so that he’s also proven to let his passion get the best of him.
As impressive as it is to witness professionals excel at and love what they do, there is a fine line that Lundqvist seems to cross more often than not in recent years. His short fuse towards frustration is impossible to ignore.
Perhaps he’s simply had enough of not winning and isn’t shying away from showing it anymore. He got as close as he ever had in 2014, but the Rangers couldn’t finish the job and lost their chance at that year’s Stanley Cup. They haven’t been back since.
Lundqvist has now missed the playoffs the past three seasons. The Rangers simply haven’t been good enough. Could that help explain why he’s so quick to stare down his teammates with each failure he faces as of late?
Again, he’s done a lot of winning and he should be credited as such. Beyond that, any responsible organization would have to factor in more than just the stat line of a potential acquisition. Stan Bowman is already on thin ice, adding a toxin to the team won’t help.
Lundqvist is too prone to displaying defeat at this point in his career, that he treats it like a right. And it very well might be. However, that’s not the type of aura that will positively impact the development of these Blackhawks.
Even with Chicago experiencing more losses than wins these past few campaigns, this is still a team that battles every step of the way. They are clearly still packed with skill, too. These are essential components that need to be honed in on, not overshadowed.
Whatever direction the Blackhawks find themselves heading towards during this offseason, they need to avoid having Lundqvist join the ride. Chicago would benefit from added mentorship, but with focus on optimistic progress and not jaded shortcomings.