The Chicago Blackhawks decided to part ways with their franchise goalie earlier this offseason, and it still doesn’t add up.
While I understand that goaltending is a position Chicago had little depth at before this offseason outside of goalie Corey Crawford, I really do not understand the team’s decision to let him walk. Sure, Chicago wanted to keep their salary cap flexibility, but in the short term, Crawford was the answer for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks need all the help they can get to be respectable on the ice while rebuilding. While Chicago is not planning on winning the Stanley Cup for the next few seasons, Crawford would keep the Blackhawks in a position to not get pummeled night in and night out.
Chicago has three unproven goalies now. Delia, Lankinen, and Subban are going to get an opportunity this season, and while having three goalies is nice, that does mean they will be praying that one of these three goalies pan out.
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Crawford could have been used as a safety net this season. Even if Chicago only had him play half of the games during the season, they could have used the other half to test out these goalies. Even though Chicago is rebuilding, that doesn’t mean they need to get embarrassed, and having Crawford around would have left them a little more competitive.
In years past, we have seen that Crawford is a goalie that can help push a young player on to the next level of his career. In particular, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling both spent time as his backup before taking on the next step of their careers and became starters in the NHL.
While things did not work out for Darling, it is worth noting that his time with Crawford earned him an opportunity in a bigger role in the NHL. Being eased into a starting role as an NHL goalie is no small task, and I feel like it would have been easier for one of those three goalies if they had a guy like Crawford around to ease the load.
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While obviously, it is too late, and Crawford will be with the New Jersey Devils this upcoming season. It is still frustrating to think that Chicago could have had Crawford around for a few more years while allowing Drew Commesso to continue his development.