After a phenomenal 2013 season, highlighted by a shared Jennings trophy performance in the regular season and a certain Stanley Cup in the playoffs, Corey Crawford earned one more honor for his performace. Today the Chicago Blackhawks announced a six-year extension for the Stanley Cup-winning goaltender.
The deal is reportedly worth a total of $36 million, and will see Crawford minding the net for the Blackhawks through the 2020 season.
At 28 years-old, Crawford provides the team a long-term answer at the position. While the book on Crawford still has many blank pages, the end of the beginning has been fun to watch. Crawford went 16-7 in the 2013 playoffs, with a .932 save percentage, one shutout, and an NHL-best 1.84 goals-against average. Even Patrick Kane, shortly after being awarded the Conn Smythe (playoff MVP), and again at the Championship rally in Chicago, admitted that Crawford was the most-valuable player for the Blackhawks throughout the playoffs.
In the 2013 regular season, Crawford's .926 save percentage was good for fifth-best in the league, and his 1.94 goals-against average was third best.
Some say that Crawford still has a tendency to allow soft goals too frequently. While statistically-speaking, that may be a legitimate concern, anyone watching him play in the playoffs saw a goaltender that was ready and willing to shake a weak goal off. In 2013, Crawford finally demonstrated his ability to rebound after allowing an easy goal, and did so on the biggest of stages.
Locking Crawford up for the next six years is a bit risky for the Blackhawks, and this deal will surely put Crawford among the top-paid players on the team. However, by signing Crawford to this extension, the Blackhawks have addressed a position that has been in constant flux over recent history.
Other core players have contracts expiring in the upcoming seasons, the Blackhawks have a core that is going to be intact for at least the next two seasons. Assuming that GM Stan Bowman has a plan for how he will retain players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews when the time comes, this deal looks like a move meant to lock-in a core of valuable players at every position on the ice for years to come.
After winning the Stanley Cup two times in the last four years, the Chicago Blackhawks appear poised and prepared to continue competing for Championships for the foreseeable future.