Chicago Blackhawks parting with Cup-winning G Corey Crawford
CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Blackhawks will not sign goalkeeper Corey Crawford again at the free agency. You are parting with a key member of the Stanley Cup winner and may signal a major makeover for one of the NHL marquee franchises.
General manager Stan Bowman said he had a "somewhat emotional" conversation with Crawford on Thursday.
"The message to Corey and everyone else today is that we've decided to have some young goalkeepers here in Chicago that we believe in," Bowman said in a videoconference.
Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen, who want to share the network with Crawford, have together played 18 NHL games - all from Delia. Chicago opened in gate with Crawford and Robin Lehner last season, but in February Lehner was traded for Vegas and he re-signed a five-year $ 25 million deal with the Golden Knights.
Malcolm Subban, a goalkeeper who stopped by on the Lehner deal, is entitled to an unrestricted free hand after failing to receive a qualified offer. However, Bowman said the team was keen to bring him back.
Crawford, who turns 36 on December 31, went to 16-20 with a saving of 0.917 percent and an average of 2.77 goals against the average during the pandemic-shortened season. He started every game as Chicago Edmonton eliminated in the qualifying round before losing to the Golden Knights in the playoffs.
Originally from Montreal, Crawford was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2003 design and made his Blackhawks debut in 2010. He helped the franchise to Stanley Cup titles in 2013 and 2015.
“Much like how Corey needed that opportunity when he showed up after the 2010 season - he's been with us for a couple of years working his way up - we have a couple of young goalkeepers here in Lankinen and Delia who we didn't give a really big one Chance, ”said Bowman. "For our goal, the NHL is relying more and more on young players. We will address this development."
The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs in the previous two seasons. They would also have missed something this year if the NHL hadn't opted for a postseason format with 24 teams.
Anyone who replaces Crawford online is in a difficult position. Chicago allowed an NHL high of 35.1 hits per game this year and rookie defensemen Ian Mitchell and Wyatt Kalynuk are expected to join the lineup next season.
The move also creates more leeway with the flat salary cap of 81.5 million US dollars. The Blackhawks expanded the qualification offerings to include restricted freelance agents Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome, and Bowman left open the option to bring back one of the team's non-advertised RFAs.
"That doesn't necessarily mean these players won't return to the Blackhawks," said Bowman. "In particular, I think we hope we can sign Malcolm."
Crawford joins an impressive list of available goalkeepers that includes Henrik Lundqvist, Braden Holtby, Thomas Greiss, Jacob Markstrom and Anton Khudobin. Vegas-based Marc-Andre Fleury is also reportedly available in stores after Lehner signs his new deal.
Crawford, who has missed parts of the past two seasons due to concussions, has 260 wins with a savings of 0.918 percent and 2.45 GAA in 488 NHL career games. The team paid tribute to Crawford following the announcement on his Twitter account, and Bowman said he's on the same conversation as the franchise's elite goalkeepers.
"To be a two-time Stanley Cup champion, the only goalkeeper in Blackhawks history to do so, it speaks for his skill," said Bowman. Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Corey Crawford. "
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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