The Blackhawks are making sure they’ve learned from history so as to not repeat it again this offseason. After failing to get Antti Niemi locked up to a restricted free agent deal last summer, GM Stan Bowman and the rest of the Chicago front office made sure they didn’t do the same thing this time around with Corey Crawford.
Chicago signed Crawford to a three year contract extension that will reportedly pay him $8 million total according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. That works out to a salary cap hit of $2.67 million over the next three seasons, a cap-friendly amount for the cap space limited Blackhawks. The annual cap hit works out to be $80,000 less than Niemi was awarded in arbitration over the summer, a deal that Chicago walked away from only to see Niemi sign with San Jose.
For Crawford, he’s being rewarded for a spectacular rookie season that saw him go 33-18-6 with a 2.21 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. While it’s just one year’s worth of results for Crawford, his play in the late stages of the regular season and the playoffs gave hope to all in Chicago that it’ll be the first of many years like that to come for the 26 year-old Quebec native.
While his contract is decently priced, the Blackhawks still have salary cap questions for next year. CapGeek.com has the Blackhawks committed to $53.6 million next season already for just 15 players. With the cap rumored to be going up to $62.2 million next season, that gives Chicago less than $9 million to get up to eight players signed up.
They’ll again be in the market for a backup goalie if Marty Turco doesn’t want to hang around. They’ll also have up to five restricted free agents to negotiate with as well. It’ll make for another interesting offseason in Chicago, but one they’ll likely feel a bit less stressed out compared to last year.
That said, getting good goaltending and not having to break the bank for it are great things and for Chicago, this is a great deal. We’re sure that the Washington Capitals who have restricted free agent Semyon Varlamov to deal with were paying close attention to how things went down here.