The Blackhawks kept the right goalie
There’s no doubt Chicago got it right with the Crawford vs. Darling decision.
Remember the debate about whether the Blackhawks should keep Corey Crawford or trade him to re-sign Scott Darling? The idea was that the team could retain Darling at a lower price than Crawford’s $6 million cap hit, which could be a better value in combination with the strong return you’d receive from trading the veteran netminder.
However, the Blackhawks decided to keep Crawford and trade Darling. They were right.
(via Hockey-Reference’s Play Index)
That’s every goaltender in the NHL with at least 20 appearances this season. Crawford is first among the 28 with a .935 save percentage. Darling is dead last with a save percentage that’s nearly three percent lower than his rate with the Blackhawks.
This isn’t to say that Darling is a bust who will never succeed as a starter, or that Crawford is definitely the best goaltender in the NHL. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. After all, there was a lot of reason prior to this season to believe Darling would be a good starter, which is why Carolina took the bet on him in the first place.
But when Stan Bowman was forced to make a decision over which one to keep, he didn’t screw it up. He kept the guy who helped him win two Stanley Cups, and has since proven to be one of the most reliable goalies in hockey.
You really don’t need anything else other than the image above to know that.