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Looking for a goalie? Crawford says Darling’s ‘definitely’ a No. 1

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LOS ANGELES — It’s already well-established that this summer’s goalie market is going to be interesting.

A slew of guys are set to hit unrestricted free agency, and — in addition to teams needing to address the position — the expansion Las Vegas franchise has to fill out its roster as well.

A name that’s garnered plenty of attention recently is Chicago backup Scott Darling. And on Saturday, the guy Darling’s currently behind — second-time All-Star Corey Crawford — put forth a glowing recommendation for his crease mate.

“Definitely,” Crawford said, when asked if Darling is starting netminder material. “He’s already come along and learned so many things in his first two years. He’s a big guy that can move well, and there’s still a lot of things to learn.

“I had to learn that too, in my second year. Being a No. 1, there’s a lot more that goes into it — a little more pressure, and some other things that start to come up that you have to deal with. But as far as skill and technique and mental toughness and all that stuff, Darls has come a long way.”

Darling, 28, is in the midst of a banner campaign. As mentioned, he has ideal size — 6-foot-6 — and showed extremely well this year as the temporary starter, when Crawford went down with appendicitis.

All told, Darling is 12-5-2 with a .925 save percentage and 2.31 GAA. And his body of work over the course of his brief NHL career lends credence to the notion he could be a No. 1 — in 65 games, he’s posted a .923 save percentage and 2.34 GAA.

Darling is an absolute bargain right now, in the last of a two-year deal with a minuscule $587,500 cap hit.

That will likely change this summer.

And along with it, his zip code could change too.

Chicago’s starting gig will stay with Crawford, who’s backstopped the team to a pair of Stanley Cups. This is his second All-Star Game appearance in the last three seasons, and he further cemented his status as one of the NHL’s best this past offseason, when he was one of three goalies named to Team Canada at the World Cup (along with Braden Holtby and Carey Price, the two reigning Vezina winners).

As such, opportunity and a nice payday are probably coming from somewhere other than the Windy City.

The big question, of course, is where Darling fits in what projects to be a fluid market. Guys with starting experience — like Ben Bishop, Ryan Miller, Brian Elliott, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth — could all come available.

And backups like Darling — Buffalo’s Anders Nilsson, New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid, Ottawa’s Mike Condon and Calgary’s Chad Johnson — are also having good-to-great years, and could be up for grabs as well.

And, lest we forget, there’s a situation in Pittsburgh where one of Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury will have to be left unprotected in the expansion draft.

Whatever the case, Crawford’s words suggest Darling will be a key figure this summer.

“He’s definitely up there for a spot, for sure,” he said. “He’s a great guy to play with, and just a great guy to be around too.

“It’s been awesome having him as a teammate.”

Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

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Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas:

Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38

In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey: