Chicago Blackhawks depending on Corey Crawford

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

No matter who is or is not added the rest of the summer, the Chicago Blackhawks’ season relies on the play of Corey Crawford.

After missing the playoffs for the first time in nine years, many fans were hoping the team would be aggressive this offseason and add a big name. Instead, the biggest splash the Chicago Blackhawks have made thus far is ridding themselves of the Marian Hossa contract.

There have been plenty of rumors of Chicago’s next trade. Justin Faulk, Erik Karlson, Max Pacioretty, and Jeff Skinner are all names that have been mentioned, but the asking price for any of those may be too high considering the inclusion of Vinnie Hinostroza in the Hossa deal.

So where does that leave the Blackhawks? For the first time in years, they have the luxury of available cap space, but the lack of assets may force them to head into the season with the roster as it is presently constructed. General manager Stan Bowman hinted at such just last week.

"“I wouldn’t say we have to do something. Having cap space is an asset in and of itself, so things will come along, maybe in the summer, maybe in the beginning part of the year.”"

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That doesn’t exactly scream that the Blackhawks are on the verge of making a meaningful move. Enter Corey Crawford. Perhaps, the Blackhawks most important “acquisition” for the 2018-2019 season.

Crawford’s last game action came just before Christmas. A December 23rd game against the New Jersey Devils where the two-time cup winner was pulled during the first period.

The last time he was on the ice at all was a February 12th morning skate in Phoenix. Before the injury, Crawford was second in the league with a .929 save percentage to go along with 16 wins and a 2.27 goals against average.

In contrast, the hodgepodge of backups struggled. In 35 games Anton Forsberg gave up 35 goals on his way to a 10-16 record. When they tried to dip into their farm system, Jeff Glass, Jean-Francis Berube, and Colin Delia all posted sub .900 save percentages. The best game by a Hawks backup netminder was thanks to accountant Scott Foster.

In all seriousness, any hopes the Hawks have of contending for a playoff spot rest with Crawford. But what are realistic expectations? Even if he comes back healthy there is no telling how he will perform. Given Crawford’s history of returning from injury, there will undoubtedly be rust. To expect him to come in and pick up where he left off is highly unlikely. Is it safer to assume he may not play again this season? We simply do not know at this point, but I would not be surprised either way.

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For all the talk about trade rumors and newly found cap space, the most important question for the Blackhawks this season is who will be in net. If you are expecting Cam Ward and Forsberg to lead you back to the playoffs, it is going to be a long season.