Aug 16, 2013, 2:44 PM EST
Corey Crawford finished the 2013 playoffs with a record of 16-7-2, a goals-against average of 1.84, and a save percentage of .932.
Oh, and 1.0 Stanley Cups hoisted over his head.
To say the 28-year-old proved his detractors wrong this past spring would be an understatement. Crawford only had one really poor outing, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final when the Boston Bruins put five behind him. Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they got six behind Tuukka Rask that night.
After the Cup was won, the ‘Hawks were all but lining up to lavish praise on their goalie.
“He obviously took a lot of heat over the last couple of years. And all he’s done is just played unreal from start to finish this year,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “I can’t say enough about him. The pressure on him, to do what he did was unbelievable.”
Of course, Antti Niemi was pretty good for the Blackhawks in 2010, and he ended up signing with the San Jose Sharks that summer. A salary cap can lead to tough choices for teams that spend to the max.
Which brings us back to Crawford, who has one year remaining on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Currently, his cap hit is around $2.7 million; barring injury or total meltdown next season, it will be going up with his new deal. The questions are: how much will it be going up? And, will the Blackhawks be the ones responsible for it?
Per CapGeek, Chicago already has over $56 million allocated to just 12 players in 2014-15. On top of that, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are pending UFAs in 2015-16. And with all due respect to Crawford, those two take priority.
On the other hand, there isn’t a sure-fire successor to Crawford in the system. The ‘Hawks recently signed veteran Nikolai Khabibulin to a one-year deal to replace backup Ray Emery, who went to Philadelphia in free agency.
Could Finnish free-agent signing Antti Raanta be the goalie of the future?
Raanta, 24, was named SM-liiga playoff MVP this season, capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy (Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe) and while posting a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage for Assat, backstopping the club to the league championship.
“He had a great season,” said general manager Stan Bowman. “Hats off to him. I think we were very fortunate to get him. Our staff worked hard and had discussions with him and his agent. We tried to explain where we see him. We think he has a bright future, and now it’s just a matter of getting him acclimated to the North American style. We think he’ll do very well.”
It figures that Raanta is headed for the AHL to start the season, and he’s comfortable with that.
It also figures that how he performs with Rockford could have an impact on Crawford’s future with the club.
More Blackhawks day on PHT:
Dec 11, 2013, 11:27 PM EST
Interesting comment to make.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:59 PM EST
Turned for the Flyers in second period, got worse from there.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:26 PM EST
Dec 11, 2013, 9:43 PM EST
That was fast.
Dec 11, 2013, 9:25 PM EST
Dec 11, 2013, 9:07 PM EST
Not a big deal to him, though.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:43 PM EST
Rivalry Night starts with a bang.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:07 PM EST
“I’m sure it’s going to be up there. It’s going to be steep.”
Dec 11, 2013, 7:48 PM EST
Incident occurred during Tuesday’s Tampa Bay-Washington game.
Dec 11, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
“I’m not too worried about someone coming after me.”
Dec 11, 2013, 6:48 PM EST
Physical defenseman was 10th overall pick in his draft class.
Dec 11, 2013, 6:02 PM EST
Incident occurred during Tuesday’s Carolina-Edmonton game.
Dec 11, 2013, 5:20 PM EST
Only five others have done it before.
Dec 11, 2013, 4:45 PM EST
Petr Mrazek called up from the AHL.
Dec 11, 2013, 4:33 PM EST
It wasn’t plywood. Come on, people.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:55 PM EST
Injury is “coming along slower than we anticipated,” according to coach Noel.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:30 PM EST
“This is not a full body check in which contact to the head was unavoidable,” ruled Brendan Shanahan.
Dec 11, 2013, 3:18 PM EST
Chicago is once again leading the NHL in attendance.
Dec 11, 2013, 2:19 PM EST
Tough call for Glen Sather.
Dec 11, 2013, 2:07 PM EST
All the latest from the crease…
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 9
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 40
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 30
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 18
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 15
- Four goals: Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 62
- Bettman: No decision on expansion, but they’re listening 13
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)