Chicago extends Crawford – what does it mean for Dubnyk?

The Chicago Blackhawks extended goaltender Corey Crawford on Saturday, inking the starter from last season’s Stanley Cup-winning team to a six-year, $6.0 million per season contract. 

That’s a lot of money

There’s no question about it – the Blackhawks paid full price for Crawford, a player who generally isn’t seen as a top-tier NHL starter. In 2011-12, the duo of Crawford and Ray Emery struggled mightily in the Chicago net, and were seen as a critical weakness in an otherwise excellent team. Last year, Crawford turned that around and delivered strong results over a lockout-shortened season and then en route to a Stanley Cup win.

Could this decision have anything to do with the Blackhawks choice to let Antti Niemi walk away after the team won the Stanley Cup in 2010? At the time, the consensus seemed to be that Niemi had put in an averagish season and won the Cup behind a powerhouse, but since then Niemi has evolved into an exceptional goalie. 

Even so, it’s hard not to be a little staggered by the dollars and term here. Crawford has a career 0.913 save percentage, with the vast majority of those games coming in the last three seasons, and that total ranks 28th of the 54 active goalies to record at least 1,000 saves over that span. Even eliminating the backups ahead of him (players like Jhonas Enroth and Jason LaBarbera), Crawford’s save percentage puts him in the bottom-third of NHL starters.

What About Devan?

It’s a deal that must have pending unrestricted free agent Devan Dubnyk smiling, because there are definite similarities between Dubnyk and Crawford.

Both are on roughly the same career track. Dubnyk was selected in the first round of the 2004 Draft and Crawford went in the second round in 2003. After minor-league apprenticeships that included a smattering of NHL games (19 for Dubnyk in 2009-10, eight for Crawford over three seasons) both surpassed veteran incumbents to take the starting job in 2010-11. Both now find themselves hovering around the 150-game mark on their careers after three seasons with some ups and downs.

What about the performance gap? Both are career 0.913 save percentage goalies, and over the last three seasons (when both have been starters) there isn’t that much space between them. Dubnyk has a 0.917 save percentage over that span to Crawford’s 0.913, and at even-strength Dubnyk has a 0.923 save percentage to Crawford’s 0.922. The four point even-strength save percentage gap over that span is the difference between a middle-third and bottom-third starter, but given that we’re talking about four goals over 1,000 shots its only fair to recognize that the gap isn’t all that large.

But then, Crawford isn’t being paid like a guy who has been a bottom-third NHL starter over the last three seasons. He now ranks seventh among goalies in cap hit – he’s being paid because he’s a Stanley Cup-winning goalie. Maybe that’s a bad way to decide to pay goalies (I think it is) but it is what is happening and it isn’t something that Dubnyk can claim.

Even so, it does seem clear that the brief era of goalies being seen as a place to save money against the cap is now over, and that’s unfortunate for the Oilers given their need to sign either Dubnyk or a new starter next summer.


Completely off-topic is this message from the Canadian Cancer Society. This September, they’re spreading awareness of testicular cancer through "Nutiquette" and naturally we thought we’d help them with that. Watch the movie, it’s funny.

Recently by Jonathan Willis


  • oilbaron

    I believe you stated the most obvious thing, he’s a Stanley cup winning goalie and dubey isn’t. Period, end of story. now bring on the start of training camp so I don’t have to read these asinine articles anymore.

  • DSF

    Dubnyk is worth under 4-4.5M for 3-4 years which I think is fair both ways.

    If he’s looking for a bigger or longer payday it must be decided if a mid level goalie with stable numbers is worth much more. Risk grows greatly overpaying 95% of goalies.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Grant fuhr is a perfect example of a goaltender with a superior team in front of him. Clearly a passenger. Jim matheson could have played in net for the oilers and they still would have won.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Fuhr one of the best reflex goalies of all time . Followed some of his stellar performances from Tier 2 on up . Incredible reflexes , and many incredible games over the course of his Oiler career . He was no passenger , but often the difference maker as our defenceman were adequate at best most of the time .

  • Wax Man Riley

    Just cuz we haven’t made the playoffs doesn’t mean we have to overlook our own players a abilities. Dubnyks numbers speak for themselves and he did that with the second most shots faced by all goalies last year. I have watched probably every single oilers game since I don’t know when and I have seen dubnyk literally crawl his way up the ladder to when he was battling jdd for the net. Even then u could see his size and calmness were good attributes. Yes I have seen him let in his share of soft goals but I have also seen him stop 40 out of 42 and we lose in overtime or some player mistake. The point is he has it in him to be a VERY good goalie almost Peka rinne type he just needs to put it all together. We can’t blame a developing goalie for all our losses then toss him aside. We won’t be paying dubnyk Crawford money cuz he don’t have a cup like Crawford does which was probably a deciding factor in that negotiation. And even if he does win the cup this yr (fingers crossed) gagner showed his commitment to the team by taking less and I bet u dubnyk and even the yakupovs and Shultzs will take hometown deals to keep what looks to be an Allstar cast in Edmonton. Wouldn’t you take a pay cut to play with top players around the same age as you and keep winning? Over and over? But the keyword is winning so lets see what happens this year and stop hating on our homegrown talent give the guy a chance

  • Spydyr

    Grant Fuhr coined the term “Money Goalie”. When the Oilers needed the door slammed shut he slammed it for them. Even he himself stated that his defensemen were always there…… to get the rebounds!

    Dubie is an interesting case, his numbers are fairly decent for a guy who basically has had no team in front of him. How many nights can we recall Dubnyk absolutely hung out to dry on a late man shot from the slot? The Oilers are the worst at picking up that late man and Dubnyk god bless his heart tries his best. Only so many times you can shake the bulls tail before he goes into a fit of rage and relocates you fifty feet from where you once stood.

    If Dubnyk can find some decent play in front of him his numbers will shine brighter. Always takes these bigger netminders to finf their niche, he does have game stealing potential. But with the stockpile of talent in front of him hopefully he won’t see many late man chances.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    That’s the established going rate for a cup winning goaltender nowadays. Win a Stanley Cup Devan, it’s the only way to earn that type of future albatross type of contract.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    There are a few mediocre teams that can win the cup with a stellar goalie. Carolina in 2006 may be the most recent. All other Stanley winners were great teams. So the point re the quality of the team in front of the goalie becomes somewhat moot. If a goalie backs his team to the Cup, he will gain a certain status that guarantees good contracts for the rest of his career (see Khabibulin for more details). Winning the Cup matters. It just does.