Stan Bowman was convinced he would get Corey Crawford to agree to a contract extension and the Hawks’ GM was correct. Bowman also indicated awhile ago he wasn’t in a hurry to get an extension for Crawford completed. Bowman’s relaxed attitude towards negotiations may have been more posturing than anything else.
Hockey logic indicated there wasn’t another good option for Bowman.
In comparison to other restricted free agent (RFA) goal keepers this summer Crawford was at the head of the class. There are two top tick potential unrestricted free agents goalies that might have been available. But both Ilya Bryzgalov and Tomas Vokoun are well beyond the Hawks’ budget. Down deep Bowman knew even if only one of those two quickly resigned with their present team the price for goal tenders this summer could go up.
I’m sure Bowman understands about supply and demand and the Hawks could have been caught in another ticklish arbitration situation or even worse. If negotiations crept along Crawford might have attracted an offer sheet from a desperate team which lost out on either Bryzgalov or Vokoun.
Crawford could have been considered a viable less expensive option for a desperate Cup contender. All that is moot now as Bowman realized his only real option was his best option.
My guess is the Hawks paid up a bit and got Crawford to agree to a longer term. But a three year, $8 million contract isn’t hard for the Hawks to swallow. That is as long as Crawford plays at the level he did this past season.
Crawford deserves to be well paid. He toiled in the AHL for five years and had to be patient. Crawford concentrated on honing his skills and wasn’t deterred.
For the last few years, Crawford was stuck behind the overpaid Nikolai Khabibulin and the bloated contract of Cristobal Huet. When it appeared Crawford would finally get his chance, the recallable contract of Antti Niemi was a big reason he spent another season in Rockford.
When given the chance on the big stage Crawford shined.
Crawford had a great rookie season and was the reason why the Blackhawks were eligible to play in the post season. He was better than I anticipated. Crawford’s playoff performance was at a high level and that experience should serve him well.
Recently the Hawk front office hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to selection starting goal keepers. During the previous two seasons Huet and Marty Turco were bumped off their perch as the number one goalie. Hopefully Bowman and company have made the correct choice this time.
Crawford could become a star, as always time will tell. But for now Crawford deserves his contract and the benefit of doubt.
After watching the implosion of the San Jose Sharks in Vancouver the other night an interesting thought came to mind.
It has taken a couple of years but the Canucks have taken a page from the Blackhawks and have learned to turn the other cheek. It has also taken a couple of years but now the Sharks appear to have become the Canucks of old.
Bowman indicated the Hawks are negotiating to get goal keeper Alexander Salak to come over to North America.
Salak might want to be well paid to make the move considering his role has been defined as a backup. In a perfect world Salak comes over and stays in Rockford for a season. He could use the seasoning and the Hawks won’t have to deal with the cap hit.
The Hawks do need a backup and my gut says it won’t be Marty Turco. My take is the Hawks can’t afford to pay $1 million or more on a backup keeper. Cap space is not as tight as last summer but every penny still counts.
Maybe the 31 year old Joey MacDonald would appreciate a raise and a change of scenery. MacDonald isn’t the biggest goalie around but at 6’0″ and about 200lbs he could be an adequate backup for Crawford.
MacDonald played in 11 games for the Red Wings and had a 2.21 GAA while recording a respectable .924 save percentage.
MacDonald earned $550,000 last season and is an upcoming UFA.
I have not heard any rumors but MacDonald should be available for less than $1 million per season. By this time MacDonald would be accustomed to his role and might be content on being a backup in Chicago.
Lastly, I feel sorry for the fans of the Atlanta Thrashers as the move to Winnipeg appears likely.
Of all the big cities in the US, Atlanta might be at the bottom of the heap when it comes to supporting professional sports.
The people of Winnipeg deserve a NHL franchise but it is too bad they will get a team because of financial struggles in Atlanta.
In my view the quickest way for the Thrashers to become a playoff participant was to draft correctly. Then they must be able to retain good young players and that takes money. The odds for success will be better in a financially sound environment.
It’s a difficult economy in the US. Unfortunately, there probably will be other franchises looking to relocate in the near future.
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