Crawfords future uncertain with Blackhawks, GM says

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Corey Crawford‘s future with the Chicago Blackhawks is uncertain with the goalie able to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, general manager Stan Bowman said Friday.

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 and .907 save percentage in nine games this postseason after missing all but the final day of training camp in July after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I don’t have any announcements to make on what we’re going to do,” Bowman said regarding Crawford. “We have an idea of what we want to do, and we’ll talk to the agents and see where that goes. There’s no question Corey played excellent for us, certainly as the tournament got going and he got more up to speed. 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.”

Chicago, which finished 12th in the Western Conference this season (32-30-8, .514 points percentage), defeated the Edmonton Oilers in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, then lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Crawford was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 GAA and .917 save percentage in 39 games (all starts) in the regular season, and is 260-162-53 with a 2.45 GAA and .918 save percentage in 488 games (474 starts) over 13 seasons with the Blackhawks.

Video: Corey Crawford carries the Blackhawks to a Game 4 win

Where defenseman Brent Seabrook fits into Chicago’s plans is also to be determined. The 35-year-old had surgery on his right shoulder Dec. 27, on his left hip in January, and on his right hip Feb. 6. Seabrook began skating with teammates in voluntary workouts July 9 and participated in every practice during training camp but did not travel to Edmonton, the hub city for the West, with the Blackhawks. A Stanley Cup winner with Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015, he has four seasons remaining on an eight-year contract that runs through 2023-24. 

“I don’t want to speak for Brent,” Bowman said. “His role will be figured out in training camp as opposed to now. It was a valiant effort for him to come back from rehab and try to make it to help our team in Edmonton, but there wasn’t a lot of time for him. By the time we get to camp, we’ll have a better feel for what his role on the team would be moving forward, what spot he’s going to play. I know he has high hopes for himself and he has put a lot of work into becoming an impact player. That would be great if it works out that way.”

Seabrook has 464 points (103 goals, 361 assists) in 1,114 NHL games over 15 seasons with the Blackhawks. He scored four points (three goals, one assist) in 32 games this season, last playing Dec. 15.

“I don’t know where my place is here with the Blackhawks,” Seabrook said July 24. “That’s a question for Stan and (coach) Jeremy [Colliton]. As far as the NHL goes, I know I can be an impact player on a team.”

Bowman said he doesn’t expect Chicago to make many changes this offseason after it reached the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Crawford is the Blackhawks’ only pending unrestricted free agent. Potential restricted free agents include forwards Ryan Strome, Drake Caggiula and Dominik Kubalik; defenseman Slater Koekkoek; and goalie Malcolm Subban.

“There’ll be some new faces, but there’ll be fewer brand-new faces to the Blackhawks,” he said. “We have a better foundation and baseline. We’re in a better spot, on better footing for next year. The coaches did a good job of getting us through that, to the point where we hung around long enough, got our feet under us and in the second half (of the season) and played closer to the team we wanted to play like. In Edmonton we had flashes of it, but we need more of it, and it’s a better foundation than where we were a year ago.”

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