On Labor Day, the Chicago Blackhawks announced a six-year contract extension with goaltender Corey Crawford through the 2019-20 season. In 2013-14, Crawford will finish off the remainder of his three-year, $8 million contract making $2.5 million. Afterwards, the twenty-eight-year-old will make $6 million per season.
Many will say this is a solid contract for both sides, but this appears to be a complete disaster in the making. Crawford has yet to prove himself as a capable starter, despite winning the Stanley Cup last season and being the best team in the NHL. However, with the talent Chicago had throughout their lineup, they could have made anyone look good. Hell, they even made Ray Emery look stellar after returning from hip surgery a year ago.
Playing in front of Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson-Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy-Michal Roszival is quite special — and fortunate. The Blackhawks allowed an average of 29.4 shots per game, sixth in the league.
Looking at the stats last season by Crawford, he had a 19-5-5 record, .926 save percentage (5th in the NHL), 1.94 goals against average (3rd) and three shutouts (11th). Those are solid numbers, but in order to support my opinion of him being overrated, you have to look outside the numbers.
Too often in games does he lose focus and give up weak goals. The Nashville Predators were kings at capitalizing on fluky goals against Crawford last season. (Skip to around 0:32).
And don't forget about how victimized his glove side was in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins. I will give him this however; he was mentally strong and was able to finish out the remainder of the series to win the Cup.
Until Crawford becomes a physically better goaltender, working on his skating, speed and all around athleticism, he has yet to become an elite goaltender silencing critics.
I saw this tweet by Ryan Batty, a blogger for SB Nation's Copper and Blue covering the Edmonton Oilers.
Don't pay big money for goalies. Just don't. Unless you've got a sure fire Hall of Fame player it isn't worth it.
— Ryan Batty (@ryan_batty) September 2, 2013
Boston re-signed their starting goaltender Tuukka Rask to a big-money, eighty-year, $56 million contract. This is also a bad contract, but Rask is still young (26) and can prove himself in the coming years. Crawford has already hit the prime of his career and will likely not get too much better. That is the difference between these two deals.
Pekka Rinne was re-signed to seven-year, $49 million contract last season. He is clearly a hall-of-fame caliber goaltender, but has yet to have the correct pieces around him in order to prove that to the world. Arguably, Rinne is the best goalie in the league right now and he deserves the big money contract.
Crawford? Not so much. He isn't even in the same category as Rinne.
This extension is a failure in the making and Hawks fans should be gearing up for a Roberto Luongo-like situation in the coming years before the contract is up.
But for Predators fans, be happy for this deal and watch the madness unfold in front of your eyes. It will be a fun one for Smashville to watch.
(Photo by ChicagoNow.com)