Crawford signs 3-year deal with Blackhawks

While the Chicago Blackhawks won't have the opportunity to defend their Stanley Cup this spring, the emergence of rookie goalie Corey Crawford was quite the bright spot for a team that will be in good position to make an even stronger push for the big prize next season.

The Blackhawks made sure Crawford would be a part of that plan by signing the 26-year-old goalie to a three-year contract Thursday. Terms of the deal were not released. He would have become a restricted free agent had he not signed before July 1.

Crawford led rookie goaltenders this season with 33 wins (33-18-6), tied for the rookie lead with four shutouts and ranked eighth among all NHL goalies with a 2.30 goals-against average.

He also led all first-year goalies with a .927 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The Montreal native became the second Blackhawks goaltender since 1994 to reach the 30-win plateau. He tied a franchise rookie record established in 1963 with eight consecutive wins in February and March and earned the victory in seven consecutive starts in November and December.

Crawford compiled a 176:09 shutout streak in January, the longest by a Chicago netminder since Tony Esposito in 1972 and turned aside 16 of 19 shootout attempts during the season, including all eight he faced at the United Center.

A 2003 second-round pick (No. 52), Crawford is 34-21-12  with a 2.33 GAA and .917 save percentage in 65 regular-season games since making his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in 2005-06. The 2010-11 season, however, was his first full NHL campaign.