It appears the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t be playing anytime soon so this is a perfect time to delve into every Western Central Division team’s pending UFAs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, hockey, and the world itself are full of uncertainties at the moment. One thing that we do know for sure is who will be under contract next season and who will become an unrestricted free agent (UFA).
In this, our final section of a four-part series on every pending UFA in the NHL, we break down every team in Western Conference’s Central Division. You can also revisit the rest of the league’s UFAs by division. Part 1 focused on the Metropolitan Division, part 2 was the Atlantic Division, and part 3 was the Pacific Division.
The Chicago Blackhawks are no longer the team that dominated the NHL for years. They still have the same core players signed longterm but a lot of their magic is gone.
Duncan Keith was another core part of that three-time cup winning dynasty. Keith continues to be an important member of the franchise. He is still logging heavy minutes on Chicago’s blueline at age 36 and providing a steady presence for his club.
The player the Blackhawks relied upon the most through their Stanley Cup runs was Corey Crawford. He won two cups and was with the organization when they won in 2009-2010 but in the smallest possible role. He had played just a single regular-season game that year and took the net for 45 games with the Rockford IceHogs.
Crawford’s rise to prominence began a year later. He took over for Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi. For the 2010-2011 season, Crawford became Chicago’s starting netminder working with Maty Turco as his backup. Crawford has remained the team’s starting goalie ever since.
Now the Montreal born stopper is about to be the Blackhawks sole rostered UFA this offseason. At age 35 he is earning $6 million a season. That will almost certainly decrease on Crawford’s next deal.
Since goalies are notorious for playing at a later age than skaters, Crawford will likely attempt to secure himself a multi-year deal while the Hawks may want to provide just a single year guarantee. With Crawford’s history in Chicago, it would make sense for both parties to bring him back.