Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman announced on Thursday, a day before NHL free agency begins, that the club would not try to re-sign pending free-agent goaltender Corey Crawford. That means Chicago should be active in free agency or in trade talks as the Hawks lack a No. 1 in net for next season as things stand.
"I had a conversation with Corey earlier (Thursday) and it was an emotional talk," Bowman said Thursday. In one regard, this news isn't a surprise because Crawford has dealt with serious concussion issues over the past few seasons and will be 36 on New Year's Eve.
That said, it's the end of an era. The Hawks won three Stanley Cups in the 2010s and Crawford was the starter for two of them. He's the franchise's all-time leader in playoff wins with 52 and pitched a shutout in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals vs. Tampa Bay to win the series. In fact, after the Lightning took a 2-1 series lead, Crawford allowed just two goals the rest of the way. He also finishes third in Blackhawks history in regular-season wins with 260 – behind only Hall of Famers Tony Esposito (418) and Glenn Hall (276).
Chicago tried to trade for Pittsburgh Penguins Cup-winning goalie Matt Murray during the just-completed NHL Draft but couldn't come to contract terms with Murray to finalize the deal. The Pens ended up dealing Murray to Ottawa. Right now, the Hawks' two goalies are Collin Delia (16 career NHL games) and Kevin Lankinen (zero).
One big-name goalie who won't be an option to replace Crawford is future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist, who was cut free by the New York Rangers. He reportedly will sign with the Washington Capitals on Friday.
William Hill lists Chicago as a +5000 long shot to win the 2021 Stanley Cup. The NHL is hoping to start next season on New Year's Day.
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