Corey Crawford’s future with the Blackhawks is uncertain with the goaltender able to become an unrestricted free agent, but he wants to be back with Chicago.
The 35-year-old, who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2013 and 2015, was 4-5 with a 3.31 goals-against average, .907 save percentage and minus-3.23 goals-saved above average in nine games this postseason after missing all but the final day of training camp in July after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I would like to be back,” he said Tuesday in his end-of-season media availability. “We still have a lot of great pieces on this team. To win another Stanley Cup in Chicago would be unbelievable. That’s the No. 1 goal, to win one more championship.”
Chicago, the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, upset No. 5 seed Oilers in four games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers then fell in five games to the top-seeded Golden Knights in the first round.
“There’s no question Corey played excellent for us, certainly as the tournament got going and he got more up to speed,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said last week. “He got better as it went along. He came in in a tough situation, hadn’t practiced much coming off his sickness, and full credit to him to get up to speed that quickly. We do have some decisions to make there, but I don’t have much to share with you at this point.”
Crawford, who missed 80 games the previous two seasons because of concussions, was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average, .917 save percentage, 9.01 GSAA and one shutout in 39 games (all starts) in the regular season. He split starts during the season with Robin Lehner before the latter was traded Feb. 24 in a three-way deal with the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights.
“I want to play a ton,” said Crawford, who is coming off a six-year, $36 million contract. “I don’t want to play half the games and sit on the bench for stretches at a time. I think my value is just not as good doing that. I’m way more valuable playing games and playing consistently. It really depends on how much I’m going to be used. Salary, that can be discussed. That’s something that is not as important at this time. We’ll see how those discussions go, but staying in Chicago and trying to win again, that’s No. 1.”
Crawford is the Blackhawks’ only pending unrestricted free agent, but the team does have five potential restricted free agents in forwards Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome; defenseman Slater Koekkoek; and backup goalie Malcolm Subban.
The Blackhawks have three goalies on NHL contracts for next season with Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matt Tomkins. Delia, who is the only one among the three with NHL experience, and Lankinen both were Black Aces for the Blackhawks in the postseason.
“At this point, for the Blackhawks and for myself, I think short term may be better,” Crawford said. ”But who knows? I could turn around. I change my mind pretty quick. I could turn around and say, let’s sign something longer, three or four years. Maybe they decide, let’s do that. Until we talk and really discuss all the options, it’s really hard to say right now. It’s up in the air.”