Corey Crawford is 28 years old. He has one year at $2.66 million remaining on his current contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. When that deal expires, his newly signed six-year, $36 million extension will go into effect. When it expires in 2020, Crawford will be 35 years old.
It’s hard not to question Crawford’s massive extension. As a matter of fact, it’s incredibly easy to raise concerns about it. In a league that more and more is shelling out large quantities of money based more on potential than on past performance, it says a lot that Crawford’s new contract is this suspect. It’s especially true when the point of lengthy contracts on small sample sizes is to buy UFA years and save money in the long run, and this one pays a premium on a player who is a year away from UFA status.
Crawford’s first two seasons as a starter were uneven. He made 57 appearances in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, with the first year proving to be above average while the second year was decidedly disappointing. In 2010-11, Crawford was 33-18-6 with a 2.30/.917 split. Including only goaltenders to start at least half their team’s games, Crawford’s save percentage ranked 13th. In even-strength save percentage, Crawford was 16th in the league at .924. That’s perfectly fine for a first-year starter in the NHL.
Crawford then signed a three-year contract extension that ends after this season, and he spent 2011-12 looking like he wasn’t worth $2.66 million, never mind $6 million.
His win-loss totals were very similar in 2011-12, but if you’re the type of person that screams about wins and rings when defending a goaltender’s play, perhaps hockey isn’t your game. Maybe cheering on your child as he or she plays duck-duck-goose is more your speed. Or perhaps musical chairs would be easier for you to follow. But if you can’t see past the wins statistic, we shouldn’t be having this conversation.
Even with a 30-17-7 mark in Year 2, his other numbers fell off a cliff. Using the same criteria as earlier, his 2.72 GAA ranked him 25th in the NHL. His .903 save percentage ranked 27th. His .915 even-strength save percentage also ranked 27th. He was pulled from a start for ineffectiveness seven times. In a six-game first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, Crawford had a measly .893 save percentage and lost three games in overtime, the last two losses coming on goals that could be described as either terrible or really terrible. Read the rest of this entry »