As was reported earlier this week, there’s a chance Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford doesn’t return this year. Scotty Bowman told a Toronto radio station on Wednesday that Crawford’s injury is concussion-related. Unfortunately, concussions are completely unpredictable.
So what do the Blackhawks do now?
Let’s break down some options the Blackhawks might explore.
- Jeff Glass
Contact: 1 year, $612,500
2017-18: 6 GP, 3-2-1, 3.18, .909
Glass has been a nice story, but the thought that a 32-year-old rookie will carry the Blackhawks into the postseason feels like a fairy tale.
- Anton Forsberg
Contract: 2 years (through 2018-19), $750,000
2017-18: 15 GP, 3-6-3, 2.92, .911
Forsberg was brought in to be the primary back-up but he’s struggled this season. Since Crawford was put on IR, Glass has seen more action. If there was more faith in Forsberg, he would be on the ice more often.
If neither of these guys does it for you, the Hawks would need to look outside the organization. With the Hawks’ cap issues being less of a problem next year with Richard Panik off the books (and Marian Hossa likely spending the rest of his contract on LTIR), Chicago has some flexibility if they wanted to add.
External Options – 2018 Free Agents
Let’s start our potential trade search with players in their walk-year.
- Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders
2017-18: 29 GP, 13-13-2, 3.22, .906
Halak is in the final season of a 4-year deal. The Islanders are an exciting team offensively – and defensively… but not for good reasons. Halak doesn’t get much help from the Isles in front of him. Would he be a gamble worth taking? He’ll turn 33 in May but has posted a save percentage of at least .914 in each of the first three seasons of his current deal.
- Petr Mrázek, Detroit Red Wings
2017-18: 13 GP, 4-5-1, 3.43, .894
Mrázek turns 26 on Valentine’s Day and was theoretically handed the job in Detroit, only to give it right back to Jimmy Howard. He’ll undoubtedly be a popular name because of his age and the hypothetical change-of-scenery narrative, but his performance this year leaves a great deal to be desired – especially with his cap hit.
- Ondrej Pavelec, New York Rangers
2017-18: 11 GP, 3-6-1, 2.97, .915
Pavalec , 30, escaped Winnipeg just in time for the Jets to figure it out and become a solid team. Coincidence? The Rangers have their own issues to deal with; they’re currently fourth in the Metropolitan. He’s inexpensive, but there’s a reason for that.
- Antti Raanta, Arizona Coyotes
2017-18: 24 GP, 6-12-4, 2.68, .915
Raanta is a known commodity in Chicago, whether is his name was engraved on the Cup or not. Would the Hawks bring him back? They’re obviously comfortable helping the Coyotes remove decent players from their roster. As far as rentals go, Raanta’s low cap hit and familiarity with the organization an intriguing name.
External Options – 2018 College Free Agents
Here are a pair of college seniors who might be worthy of attention as their seasons come to a close.
- Tanner Jaillet, Denver
2017-18: 20 GP, 11-5-4, 2.20, .917
Jaillet isn’t a big goaltender (5-11, 170) but the Blackhawks will certainly see enough of him; two of his top defensemen, Ian Mitchell and Blake Hillman, are Blackhawks prospects. Denver has another legit title shot this year, so Jaillet might not be available until later.
- Cam Johnson, North Dakota
2017-18: 15 GP, 8-4-3, 1.92, .914
Johnson, 23, is physically bigger than Jaillet (6-1, 205) and plays for another program the Hawks know well.
External Options – 2019 Free Agents
If there’s a longer term concern about Crawford, the Hawks may look to have some continuity beyond this season. And, if they are struggling to find ice time for Forsberg over Glass, they may want to find a better option for next year. The following netminders have contracts that expire in the summer of 2019.
- Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers
2017-18: 36 GP, 16-16-2, 3.11, .902
Talbot, 30, has underwhelmed in Edmonton for an Oilers team that many felt had championship potential coming into this season. If Edmonton is looking to add depth to their blue line, the Hawks certainly have an excess of players to work with in a potential deal. But if Talbot isn’t good enough in Edmonton, what makes him good enough to save Chicago?
- Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers
2017-18: 11 GP, 3-5-1, 2.39, .923
Neuvirth has lost the net to Brian Elliott, who also has a contract that expires after the 2018-19 season. If Philly is going to move one of them, it wouldn’t figure to be Elliott at this stage of the season.