After winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, goaltender Antti Niemi promptly left Chicago due to the Blackhawks’ cap restraints. He was replaced by Corey Crawford and who just helped Chicago reclaim the Cup and this time, the team will be keeping its victorious goaltender for a very long time.
The Blackhawks announced that they have signed Crawford to a six-year contract extension. The financial terms of the deal were not released, but along with the season left in his previous contract, the 28-year-old netminder is now under Chicago’s control through the 2019-20 campaign.
Update: Crawford’s new six-year deal is worth $36 million, according to Renaud Lavoie. To give some perspective, Crawford’s $6 million cap hit ranks below Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask, who both come with a $7 million cap hit in their respective long-term deals, and above Mike Smith’s roughly $5.7 million annual cap hit as well as Jimmy Howard’s cost of about $5.3 million.
This is an obvious risk for the Blackhawks, given that just a year ago, Crawford was seen as Chicago’s biggest X-factor after his rough sophomore campaign. Even after posting a 1.94 GAA and .926 save percentage in 30 regular season games in 2013 and putting up similar numbers in the playoffs, Crawford wasn’t able to fully shake off his critics.
If Crawford regresses or simply doesn’t age well, this contract could severely limit Chicago’s chances of winning another Cup with its current core. On the other hand, if Crawford’s success in the shortened campaign was any indication of what’s to come, then he could be a key member of the next NHL dynasty.