Last offseason the Chicago Blackhawks faced a huge controversy as they were unable to lock up their starting goaltender Antti Niemi to a long-term deal and eventually lost him after he received a large arbitration award. However this offseason Stan Bowman did not take his time as he locked up current starting goaltender Corey Crawford to a new three-year deal worth $8 million which carries a cap hit of $2,666,666 million.
Crawford stepped up to become the Blackhawks starting goaltender after free agent acquisition Marty Turco never seemed to find his footing in Chicago. Throughout the season Crawford was solid posting 33 wins, 2.30 GAA and a save percentage of 91.7% but in the playoffs Crawford was spectacular helping the ‘Hawks push their series with the Canucks to seven games.
With this new deal Crawford is now cemented as the ‘Hawks franchise goaltender going forward so the ‘Hawks next task would be to get a back up goaltender into the loop and it is possible that he is already in the system.
Aside from Crawford signing a new deal, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago is reporting that he ‘Hawks have come to terms with goaltender Alexander Salak on a two-year deal worth $1.2 million, a cap hit of $600,000. Salak was acquired by the ‘Hawks in the Michael Frolik/Jack Skille deal and was actually one of the major pieces of the deal according to Stan Bowman.
Last season Salak played in the Swedish Elite League for Farjestads BK who were the champions of the league. On way to the championship Salak posted a 1.97 GAA and a save percentage of 92.6% but Salak doesn’t only have experience overseas, he also has experience in North America as he played a season for the Rochester Americans in 2009-2010.
With the Americans Salak had a very good season as he had 29 wins, 14 loses, a save percentage of 91% and a goals allowed average of 2.89 so as you can tell Salak seems to have the chops to make him a good back at the NHL level. However the spot of backup goaltender won’t be just handed to him as the ‘Hawks will still likely sign a veteran goaltender at the minimum to cover their bases encase Salak isn’t ready for full-time backup duty at the NHL level.
Finally it seems as though Stan Bowman is be proactive in signing players who are due to be free agents or restricted free agents so hopefully he can now start work on getting new contracts for the likes of Michael Frolik, Chris Campoli and possibly working on an extension with fan favorite Patrick Sharp.
Who knows but at least it seems as though Bowman has learnt his lesson from last year and hopefully will never make that mistake again.