The Crawford Conundrum

Justin Goldman




With Corey Crawford's sixth straight win on Sunday night against the feeble Calgary Flames, the Chicago Blackhawks are very close to having a controversy on their hands. And although there are many ways the Blackhawks can handle their goalies in a positive manner moving forward, many questions surround both Crawford and Marty Turco's short and long-term fantasy value.




Before I dig into some of the dynamics currently affecting Crawford and Turco, please be sure to read the Scouting Report I wrote on Crawford back on November 26. This will give you great insight on Crawford's skills and his play as of late, as well as some good fantasy insight at the end of the piece. Also check out my updated Top-100 Prospects Rankings through December 5, as Crawford has jumped up eight spots to 19th overall.


If you look back at last week's School of Block, my short-term projection for Crawford came true, as he did win his fifth game in a row. That was extended to six on Sunday night in a 4-2 win over the Flames. Both goals he allowed were to the glove side, but otherwise he was once again extremely solid between the pipes.


My long-term projection stated he would end up starting closer to 35 games and maintain close to a .920 save percentage. That's a reachable number for the rookie, but with Marian Hossa and now Patrick Kane out of the lineup for a solid chunk of December, expect the save percentage to be closer to .910 for this month and as a whole for the season.


As asked of me in the forums, many of you wonder how the Blackhawks currently regard Crawford and how it might differ from their regards in the past. I think it's safe to say, as a former second-round draft pick (52nd overall) in 2003, Chicago holds him in high esteem and fully expects him to evolve into a very successful starting goaltender. With a solid junior career under his belt, one in which he had some decent playoff success, Crawford has shown the organization he can handle a starter's workload and numerous nights of high-caliber shots and scoring chances.


Don't let Antti Niemi's surge last year influence your thoughts on Crawford's long-term value. Niemi was an isolated incident and somewhat of a risky decision by the organization. Although it didn't bode well at the time for Crawford's fantasy value, in hindsight, another season in the AHL has done more for his development than potentially riding the pine behind Cristobal Huet. Now he has just one more year of experience under his belt, and that has helped him play with more confidence this year.


As of right now, I would say the Blackhawks are very excited about the not too di