ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Has Corey Crawford suited up for the Blackhawks for the final time? That’s one of the biggest questions for the Hawks that needs to be answered over the next few months.
Crawford is an unrestricted free agent. Sometime soon his agent will begin meeting with the Blackhawks. Crawford told reporters in a Zoom conference Tuesday morning that he hopes to remain in Chicago.
“I would like to be back. I think we still have a lot of great pieces on this team and to win another Stanley Cup in Chicago would be, would be unbelieveable. That’s the number one goal is to win one more championship.”
Crawford has had a lot of ups and downs over the years since he was drafted in the second round in 2003. The ups far outweigh the downs. He’s already played for two Stanley Cup championship teams in Chicago. He’s been an NHL All-Star. He’s one of only 20 NHL goalies in history to have 50 more more Stanley Cup playoffs wins. In the playoffs recently he showed he still has games where he’s brilliant, like when he had 48 saves in a game four win against the Golden Knights.
The downside is Crawford has battled injuries and he’ll turn 36 at the end of December. No doubt many NHL teams would be interested in adding a veteran with his pedigree as a potential starter or as a grade ‘A’ backup. Crawford says he’s not ready for backup duty or to even split time in the nets.
“I want to play. I want to play a ton. I don’t want to play half the games and, you now, sit on the bench for stretches at a time. I think my value is just not as good doing that. I’m way more valuable playing games and playing consistently.”
Are the Blackhawks willing to commit to Crawford for another season or more as the number one guy? Do they have the money to resign him? They’re not exactly flush with cap space. Crawford says the money won’t be his main consideration when it comes to signing a contract.
“Salary, that can be discussed. That is definitely something that is not as important at this time.”
Blackhawks president Stan Bowman told reporters last week that it was too soon to say how the goaltender position will sort out.
The Blackhawks still expect to chase a Stanley Cup next season with a core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith still intact. If they don’t resign Crawford they’ll be taking a chance at the most important positon if they don’t sign another veteran goaltender.
Malcolm Subban is a restricted free agent. The young goaltenders in the organization Collin Delia (signed through 2021-22), Kevin Lankinen (signed through 2021-22) and Matt Tomkins (signed through 2020-21) are unproven at the NHL level.
Note: Crawford is also the Rockford IceHogs all-time leader in wins in goal with 75.