It’s a goalie conundrum the Chicago Blackhawks front office isn’t willing to admit.
Corey Crawford or Ray Emery do not appear to be the answer in the midst of an eight-game winless streak.
General Manager Stan Bowman is confident the lackluster tandem can sustain into the postseason — assuming there is one for the Blackhawks.
All other reports suggest experience in the crease is needed.
“Corey Crawford may still be Chicago’s goalie of the future but neither he nor Ray Emery are stopping many pucks right now. Bowman needs an experienced goaltender immediately but the one that should be available, Evgeni Nabokov, is off the market because New York Islanders GM Garth Snow thinks his team still has a shot at the playoffs.
Nabokov, 36, is the perfect rental player because he’s playing well, has a minimal cap hit at $570,000 (all currency U.S.) and will be an unrestricted free agent in July. But all that’s available now for the Blackhawks is Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers. He’s three years older at 39, is inconsistent and has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $3.75-million.”
So, there you have it. The one option, Nabokov, is too good for the Islanders to part with for now. And, there’s Khabibulin, who proved to be valuable his last season with the Blackhawks, going 25-8-7 with a GAA of 2.33.
But he’s far from that form just a few years ago. Emery doesn’t seem to ever be capable of being a No. 1 goalie again in his career, and Crawford is in a terrible sophomore slump.
Would parting with Rockford prospects or a depth offensive player be worth the Khabibulin gamble? There’s obviously a need to bulk up the blue line, too.
Worse comes to worse, if the Blackhawks are on the outside looking in two weeks from now, are they last-minute sellers?