Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman took a risk when he signed 28-year-old goaltender Corey Crawford to a six-year, $36 million contract, but he feels it was “an easy decision,” given the confidence they have in Crawford after his strong performance in the team’s 2013 Stanley Cup winning campaign.
If Crawford’s rough 2011-12 season proves to be an outlier over the course of his career, then that $6 million annual cap hit will look reasonable. Either way, it means that the Blackhawks already have a little over $55.6 million committed to just 13 players for the 2014-15 campaign.
That fortunately includes most of their core players, but a number of young forwards are scheduled to become restricted free agents next summer, including Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, and Andrew Shaw. How they do this season will obviously be the X-factor, but Shaw at least seems to be on a trajectory to get a good raise following the completion of his entry-level deal.
The summer of 2015 will be a big test for Chicago though. Another two young pieces of the puzzle, Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger will need new contracts and the latter will have the option to test the unrestricted free agent market. More importantly, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews’ current contracts will both expire. The two-time Stanley Cup winners come with matching $6.3 million annual cap hits as it is, but they could certainly command significantly more than that if they wanted to.
“The cap is something you have to certainly plan for and think about as an organization, but that’s not the focus right now. The reality is, we need to have a top-notch goaltender in our organization and we have it with Corey,” Bowman said, according to CSN Chicago. “There are a lot changes from year to year. We don’t have all the knowledge of where the cap will be in two years but we know we’ll have a great goaltender.”
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.