Blackhawks will not be bringing back Corey Crawford

Add Corey Crawford to the crowded list of unrestricted free agent goalies. On Thursday, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said that the team will not be re-signing the 35-year-old goaltender.

“I had a conversation with Corey earlier today and it was an emotional talk,” Bowman said.

Crawford helped lead the franchise to two Stanley Cup titles and has been a mainstay in net since the 2010-11 NHL season. He won 260 games in 474 starts and is the Blackhawks’ leader in playoff wins with 52.

The decision to let Crawford walk is a signal that a youth movement is under way, even as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remain on the books for three more seasons.

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“Now that we’ve made the decision the way that we’re going to move forward [with youth], there’s going to be a lot more things that we’re going to talk about over the coming days as far as planning next year’s team,” Bowman said.

Per CapFriendly, the Blackhawks are a little more than $11 million under the salary cap ceiling ahead of Friday’s opening of free agency. Bowman still needs to re-sign Calder Trophy finalist Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. This situation would be easier if not for Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw eating $10.775M of space for the next two seasons. (Seabrook’s $6.875M cap hit is there for three more seasons.)

As for replacements in net, Bowman did not qualify Malcolm Subban but did say he will try to sign him. It’s a crowded goalie market this offseason. Along with Crawford, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Anton Khudobin, Jimmy Howard, and Craig Anderson are just a few of the names who will be available.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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