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Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford intends to play somewhere next season but isn't sure he's ready to be a backup

Jimmy Greenfield, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

"We'll see what management wants to do. I would love to be in Chicago and have another chance."

Crawford's contract situation might depend largely on what happens with Lehner, who is 6 1/2 years younger than Crawford and this season has a significantly better save percentage (.923 to .906).

Lehner said last week he would be happy to stay with the Hawks and is willing to sign a contract extension before free agency begins in July. But he also said he doesn't plan to give the Hawks or any possible suitors a discount.

With the Hawks also needing to re-sign restricted free agents Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik, and with Alex DeBrincat's new contract kicking in next season, they won't be able to spend $11 million on goaltending as they did this season.

Market value for Lehner is probably about $7 million per year. If he returns to the Hawks at that amount, it would require Crawford, who has a $6 million salary-cap hit, to take a sizable pay cut. That's something he'll probably have to accept whether he ends up with the Hawks or elsewhere.

While Crawford hasn't complained about his reduced role, it's not something he seems to have accepted. He said Tuesday he's not sure if he's ready to head into a season as a backup.

 

"We'll have to see what the situation is," he said. "I'm a pretty competitive guy, feel like I could still make a difference on a team, to make a run at a championship. That's where my head's at. Never really had a role of sitting on the bench and being part of that situation. So I don't know."

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