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Corey Crawford will not re-sign with Blackhawks, will become unrestricted free agent

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The 35-year-old goalie has played his entire career with Chicago and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion.

Vegas Golden Knights v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Four Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Corey Crawford will not re-sign with the Blackhawks, general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday.

The 35-year-old goalie, who is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and is third in wins in Blackhawks history, can become an unrestricted free agent Friday.

“I had a conversation with Corey earlier today and it was a bit of an emotional talk,” Bowman said. “The message to Corey and to everyone is that we’ve decided we have some young goaltenders in Chicago we believe in, much like Corey [in 2010]. We have a couple young goalies in [Kevin] Lankinen and [Collin] Delia who we haven’t given a real opportunity to. With where we’re headed, the NHL is relying more and more on young players.

“We’re going to embrace that moving forward.”

Crawford was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout in 40 games (39 starts) this season and 4-5 with a 3.31 GAA and .907 save percentage in nine postseason games after missing all but the final day of training camp in July after testing positive for COVID-19. He missed 80 games the previous two seasons because of concussions.

Crawford, who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2013 and 2015, is 260-162-53 with a 2.45 GAA, a .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts in 488 games (474 starts), all with Chicago. He is 52-42 with a 2.38 GAA, .918 save percentage and five shutouts in 96 postseason games. He’s third in Chicago history in wins behind Hockey Hall of Famers Tony Esposito (418) and Glenn Hall (276) and first in postseason victories (52).

“We had some incredible moments together. To be a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the only goaltender in the history of the Blackhawks to do that, I think it speaks volumes to his ability. He’s up there with the legends for the Blackhawks: Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, Corey Crawford. Corey stands tall as a two-time Cup champion.”

“He never got the recognition early on. We had such star-studded teams, and Corey was fantastic back in 2013 when we beat the Bruins. I think his importance to our team grew and grew going to the 2015 team. I look back his performance that Cup run, and I think he was outstanding for us. We never would’ve won it without Corey. I think at that time people started recognize really how important he was and how great a goaltender he was.”

Bowman said the Blackhawks are hopeful they’ll sign Malcolm Subban, who can become a restricted free agent Friday. The 26-year-old was acquired in the Robin Lehner trade with the Golden Knights on Feb. 24, after he was 9-7-3 with a 3.17 GAA and .890 save percentage in 21 games (19 starts). He did not make a save in 1:10 of action in relief March 3 against Anaheim.

“We haven’t signed Malcolm yet, we’re hopeful we can get him signed,” Bowman said. “But as I mentioned, we’re really looking forward to having a different feel to our team and look.”

“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.”

The Blackhawks have Delia, Lankinen and Matt Tomkins all played for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL this past season and are under NHL contracts for the 2020-21 campaign. Delia was 16-13-2 with a 2.66 GAA, .912 save percentage and three shutouts in 32 AHL games; the 26-year-old is 7-5-3 with a 3.65 GAA and .906 save percentage in 18 NHL games (16 starts), but hasn’t played in the NHL since 2018-19.

Lankinen, 25, and Tomkins, 26, have both never played in the NHL.

Lankinen was 8-10-2 with a 3.03 GAA and .909 save percentage in 21 AHL games this past season after he was 7-1 with a 1.50 GAA and .942 save percentage to help the Finland national team win gold at the 2019 World Championship. Tomkins was 5-7-1 with a 3.12 GAA and .896 save percentage in 13 games during his first full AHL season to earn a two-year NHL contract.

“[Delia and Lankinen] have been working their way up,” Bowman said. “Collin had a couple really good seasons in Rockford. Kevin as well and impressive to see what he did in the World Championships.”