Corey Crawford will be available for the Blackhawks in the postseason.
The Blackhawks included the 35-year-old goaltender on their 31-man roster for the NHL’s 24-team Return To Play tournament, according to Mark Spector of Sportsnet and Scott Powers of The Athletic. Teams submitted their final 31-man roster for the 24-team Return To Play tournament by 5 p.m. Friday.
Chicago included 35 players (18 forwards, 12 defensemen, five goaltenders) on their training camp roster. Coach Jeremy Colliton said the Blackhawks would not reveal their final roster until the NHL announced it. General manager Stan Bowman said earlier this week the Blackhawks players who travel to Edmonton, the Western Conference’s hub city, will be the group for the entire postseason, barring any emergency circumstances.
Crawford, who missed 80 games the previous two seasons because of concussions, was absent since voluntary workouts began June 8 and hasn’t join the team for training camp that started July 13. He was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 40 games before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Colliton ruled Crawford “unfit to participate” during training camp. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
“We are hopeful on that,” Bowman said Tuesday of the goaltender’s ability to join the team before they travel Sunday to Edmonton for the qualifying round series against the Oilers. “We’ll be able to give you a better idea toward the end of the weekend. It’s something we’re still shooting for, but I don’t have a definitive comment. Still hoping that’s the case.”
The Blackhawks will practice Saturday before flying Sunday to Edmonton ahead of their exhibition game against the Blues on July 29 and their qualifier series against the Oilers, which starts Aug. 1. The series winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the loser and the other seven teams eliminated from the qualifiers will have an equal chance (12.5 percent) at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10. The 2020 NHL Draft is set for Oct. 9-10.
The Blackhawks have four goaltenders in training camp (Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matt Tomkins). Delia, Lankinen and Subban have each rotated into practices throughout training camp with the main group while Tomkins has stayed with the second group.
Day 1: Subban/Delia
Day 2: Subban/Lankinen
Day 3: Delia/Lankinen
Day 4: Subban/Delia
Day 5: Subban/Lankinen
Day 6: Delia/Lankinen
Day 7: Subban/Delia
Day 8: Subban/Lankinen
Day 9: Delia/Lankinen
Day 10: Subban/Delia
Subban has the most NHL experience among the trio that has participated in training camp; he’s 30-23-7 with a 2.97 GAA and .899 save percentage in 66 games (60 starts) with the Bruins, Golden Knights and Blackhawks. He was 9-7-3 with a 3.17 GAA and .890 save percentage this season with Vegas before he was acquired in exchange for Robin Lehner on Feb. 24. Subban did not face a shot in 70 seconds of relief for Chicago on March 3.
Delia is 7-5-3 with a 3.65 GAA and .906 save percentage in 18 NHL games (16 starts), all with the Blackhawks, but did not play in the NHL this season. Lankinen and Tomkins have both never played in the NHL, and all three goalies haven’t played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Thursday that he’s confident in Subban or Delia if Crawford is unable to play.
“We do feel confident in Subby, we do feel confident in Deals,” Toews said. “Those guys are ready for the opportunity, they’ve played well when they’ve gotten NHL starts before. That’s all we can really do is play our best defensive hockey, help out our goaltenders. We know those guys can do the job, and whatever happens to Crow, it’s not fair to put that level of pressure on him right now.”