Crawford likely to return for Chicago late next week

The Chicago Blackhawks announced that Corey Crawford is likely to play on either Thursday (Jan. 2) at the New York Islanders or Friday (Jan. 3) versus the New Jersey Devils.

Crawford, 28, has been sidelined since Dec. 8 with a lower-body injury.

Generally speaking, he has reacted solidly to his big, new contract. That’s especially true of his record (17-6-3), as his individual stats (.907 save percentage, 2.47 GAA) aren’t quite staggering.

Crawford’s loss has been Antti Raanta’s gain, as Chicago hasn’t really missed a beat with an unproven Finn in net.* The 24-year-old is 9-1-2 with a .915 save percentage and hopes to win his 10th game as Chicago faces the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Even though Raanta is impressing, it obviously doesn’t hurt to get Crawford back. If anything, this might push out Nikolai Khabibulin, who is recovering from injury issues of his own right now.

* – You may remember another relatively unknown Finn named Antti (Niemi) doing pretty well for Chicago in the past, after all.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.

Leafs claim Corrado from Canucks, waive Panik

Frank Corrado
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed one of the more intriguing players placed on waivers — former Vancouver defenseman Frank Corrado.

Corrado, 22, was waived by the Canucks on Monday. The former OHL standout had appeared in 28 career games for Vancouver — including 10 last year — but was squeezed out of an NHL spot following the emergence of Ben Hutton, who surprised many onlookers by making the 23-man roster.

Canucks GM Jim Benning will receive criticism for losing an asset like Corrado for nothing. Several Vancouver pundits warned of exposing a young, promising d-man to waivers and those warnings ultimately proved accurate.

With Toronto, Corrado could push for playing time as the club indicated on Monday veteran d-man Sephane Robidas wouldn’t be with the team to start the year. That would leave the the Leafs with seven healthy blueliners: Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin and Scott Harrington, who can go to the minors without having to clear waivers.

Petter Granberg, another defenseman, is currently on IR.

In a corresponding move to the Corrado claim, the Leafs put forward Richard Panik on waivers. Panik, who Toronto plucked off waivers from Tampa Bay last year, appeared in 76 games for the Leafs, scoring 11 goals and 17 points.