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.”