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.