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 17, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
Detroit ranks 30th this season in fighting majors.
Dec 17, 2014, 8:45 PM EST
Marc-Andre Fleury is unavailable Thursday.
Dec 17, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
He’s in his third season with the Wild.
Dec 17, 2014, 7:45 PM EST
Jaskin recalled from the American Hockey League.
Dec 17, 2014, 7:20 PM EST
Boston looks to snap a three-game skid.
Dec 17, 2014, 6:35 PM EST
Has not played since Nov. 18.
Dec 17, 2014, 6:20 PM EST
Hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury Nov. 2.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Rivalry Night affair on NBCSN.
Dec 17, 2014, 5:25 PM EST
It’s the first time the league has made a fine public for embellishment.
Dec 17, 2014, 4:53 PM EST
Currently has Calgary in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.
Dec 17, 2014, 4:23 PM EST
Former Pens coach was on the radio today.
Dec 17, 2014, 4:12 PM EST
Hurt during Tuesday’s 6-2 drubbing in Toronto.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:40 PM EST
Veteran d-man no longer with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Dec 17, 2014, 3:02 PM EST
Will instead serve in a “player development/consultant role,” and will work out of his Florida home.
Dec 17, 2014, 2:27 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Dec 17, 2014, 1:34 PM EST
That’s 16 documented cases league-wide.
Dec 17, 2014, 1:31 PM EST
Despite four straight losses and the memory of last season.
Dec 17, 2014, 1:23 PM EST
“In every game that he’s played, he hasn’t shown any signs of fatigue.”
Dec 17, 2014, 12:25 PM EST
“When we were winning games, it seemed those chances against would not go in.”
Dec 17, 2014, 12:21 PM EST
Preseason standout now up for grabs.
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