Corey Crawford‘s day with the Stanley Cup was a little greener than anyone else’s. Actually, it was a lot greener. Crawford put his Herbie Hancock on a fresh six year, $36M contract on Monday that will keep him in Chicago through 2020.
Stan Bowman rewarded Crawford by signing his goaltender long-term, leaving little doubt about who will be between the pipes through the rest of this decade in Chicago. The term and the dollars are going to be perceived as a bit rich for the body of work, given it’s sample size. There shouldn’t be anymore speculation as to who is the number one or whether Cro is a number one. He’s being paid like a top tier net-minder in the NHL, so being a number one is expected.
Crawford has definitely earned the extension and the acknowledgement that he’s among the league’s top talents in goal. He solidified that with his stellar regular season play (albeit shortened), posting a 1.94 GAA to go with a .926 save % and backed that with a 1.84/.932 in the playoffs and more importantly 16 wins, the magic number that gets you a Stanley Cup Championship. Those numbers along with that of ex-Hawk Ray Emery were enough to earn the Jennings Trophy, awarded to the league’s top team in terms of goal-tending.
Despite those fantastic stats, Crawford spent the year listening to critics questioning his abilities and making arguments for Emery to unseat him as starter. Joel Quenneville stuck with his gut and Crawford, and rode him to a title. Crawford can wave his new contract at any critics now, or just tell them he can’t hear them with all the cash coming out of his ears.
Bowman has now locked up another piece of his core, and did it without having to sacrifice anything under the cap for this upcoming season. Crawford will earn $2.67M this year and then jump to $6M/year (average) starting in 2014-15. The NHL salary cap is expected to go up for next season, but there is no way to know exactly how much just yet. Bowman is surely planning for it to rise at least $3-4M from it’s current $64.3M as that covers Crawford’s bump alone.
Locking up Crawford tidies up the last bit of real heavy lifting for Bowman this offseason. He’ll also have to make a decision on Niklas Hjalmarsson, a free agent next summer, but that will be much less of a distraction (if any) than if he’d have let his starting goalie get into the season without a new contract.
Now Crawford can focus on the title defense, and that little tournament breaking up the season late this upcoming winter. Since he’s already dealt with the judgement of being worthy in Chicago, the scrutiny of being worthy of starting in net for all of Canada will be nothing to him. In Crawford we trust.
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