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


  • oilerjed

    IMO, even if the Oilers got to the playoffs this coming year, there is no way I (as armchair GM) would pay Dubnyk $6 mil as like Crawford.

    Dubnyk is a very good guy and goalie but has not shown full consistency nor brilliance as of yet in his career. Those type goalies who have done this in the past and have also won cups are names such as Brodeur, Roy, Belfour, then go back further to guys like Dryden, Parent, Fuhr, Billy Smith, etc…

    Dubnyk is improving and has more potential but he nor Crawford are in the type class of the names I just mentioned above.

    If Dubnyk consistently wins more games to get the team to the playoffs this year and can show that he can play excellent enough in the hopefully upcoming 1st round of the playoffs…then I would still only offer him another 3 year contract at say…between $4 mil/$4.5 mil to maybe $5 mil per year.

    BTW, the Oilers definitely have to draft a top prospect goalie in the 2014 draft plus a couple excellent type centres….

    • Why draft a goalie when some other team already did it 4 years ago and is willing to part with them due to their needs?

      In any case, what I would really like to see is the Oil become a team so good that we don’t NEED Dubnyk to steal games in order to win. If all we can do to win games is hope our G stands on his head every night, then we are truly missing the mark on how to build a winner.

      Dubnyk is fine. Let’s put a winner in front of him. We can start with d-men that stay in front of the net, continue with forwards who play 200ft and know when to just make the simple play instead of a deke to get through the neutral zone.

      This is precisely the meaning of the oft-quoted, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

  • oilerjed

    It’s fair to mention that when Crawford looks up he sees “Keith” and “Seabrook” on jersey in front of him., not to mention that the Hawks playe lights out on both sides of the puck.

  • This is a cruel cruel idea but a dark part of me would see Crawford injured forcing Khabibulin to take over as the Hawks’ starter. Now that would be some entertaining hockey!

    EDIT: It would be ok I am sure since Khabby has a ring!

  • The Soup Fascist

    Even if the cap will go up, it’s important to sign at the right value in real time. There isn’t extra room when the cap goes up, salary inflation takes care of that. Overpaying now will reduce cap room down the line.

    We should celebrate at this. Of our divisional rivals, only the Ducks seem to be solid in net, and the Canucks, Coyotes and Kings may have long term deals for weak or declining play.

    The Flames and Sharks are sketchy. Conference rival Hawks just choose below average with term for a soon to be 29 YO. The two best teams in the conference might be weak in net (Quick being .915 ES% career). Make that 3 with the Blues. Whoopie!!

    Back to the days when the Oilers had the best goalies?

  • Spydyr

    As soon as wins Dubnyk the Cup you can start comparing him to Crawford .Cup winning goalies make more and they deserve more. They actually , you know, won something.

    To compare a goalie that has never got his team into the playoffs with a Cup winning goalie is not a fair comparison. One is a proven winner one has never even made the playoffs.

      • Spydyr

        No, not once did I say Crawford was a better goalie then Dubnyk. What I said was comparing Crawford’s salary to Dubnyk’s salary was not a fair comparison.

        Every team that wins the Cup has a tough time keeping the team together because the players demand more money. After all, they helped their team to the championship. Sather knew about this in the glory days and made several references to it.

        Dubnyk has not won a thing , nothing zilch, he does not deserve to be paid as much as the Cup winning goalie.To compare salary between goalies with the same stats one goalie having won the Cup to one that has never made the playoffs is not a fair comparison.

        Winning is what matters,no?

    • pkam

      So you believe Crawford could have lead our team to playoff?

      I wouldn’t, but I would believe the Hawks would make the playoff even with Dubnyk in net, probably win the cup too.

      I am pretty sure if Crawford plays for the Oilers, you will trash him like you do to Dubnyk.

    • Yeah. Because Devan Dubnyk wouldn’t have made the playoffs in Chicago and Corey Crawford would have won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton. Obviously.

      It’s this kind of reasoning that had people posting pictures of Nikolai Khabibulin carrying the Cup in 2004 when it was pointed out that the Oilers had given him a bad contract.

      • Spydyr

        The best players make their teammates better.

        So if one salesman sells the most gadgets one year and breaks sales record they are a huge success he should be paid the same as the salesman that has not had the same success. I don’t think so.

        Winners get paid more than losers.

        • Bad analogy.

          A more accurate version would be two salesmen. Salesman A has a slightly lower sales rate, but works for an industry leader – the industry’s best company last year. Salesman B is a slightly better seller, but works for a terrible company – one of the industry’s worst.

          The salesman with a better performance is worth more to either company, despite the fact that he wasn’t single-handedly able to turn his company into a market leader.

  • OilClog

    It means absolutely nothing for Dubnyk, yea lets compare a goalie winning cups with a goalie on a team that forgot what playoffs are. If Dubnyk at this point and time thinks his contract situation just improved.. He’s out to lunch, like this whole damn write up

    • There’s this whole span of games called the “regular season” that all the goalies play. It’s pretty long, like even longer than the playoffs. Because all the goalies play it, sometimes mean people like agents and managers (and yes, even bloggers) like to use it to form a list of comparable players and decide how much money their guy should be paid based on that list.

  • oilerjed

    Any contract over 4 years for any NHL goalie should be seen as a gigantic risk. Injuries and a change for the worst in performance is almost guaranteed for about 80% of goalies over a 5 year span. Broduer is about to retire and there are not many guys like him that can keep it up at that level for as long as he has. I really like Dubs as a goalie, Although this year will be the year that breaks the back either way. Im excited to see how he can do but not matter what, tying up anything more then 3.5-4 for three years is way out of line. I feel like if we start to show more progress this year that the young guys are not going to price themselves off of the team when it comes to negotiations. That article the other day about Hall and Ebs contracts, was a good one. It did set the bar in terms of what the Oil will pay and can be prorated for each player accordingly. It gives the younger guys a focal point (be it high for some and low for others, Yak/RNH maybe)to get a fair contract and stay with the team or take it on the road somewhere else and hope for more cash. IMO the locker room is shaping up in a way that most of these guys will want to remain and take a discount (At least on this contract) to keep it together and see where it goes. Hopefully MacT can stay the course and prove to be a strong player manager.

  • The Soup Fascist

    If Dubnyk gets 6 mil we are hooped its that simple… He has won nothing in his career, not started 1 playoff game… Was inconsistent and prone to the soft goals last year… There are much better options

  • The Soup Fascist

    Goaltending is a position where, IMO, teams would be well advised to ignore the perceived “market price” – there is no easily identifiable “market price” because the number of teams that need a #1G and the number of #1G’s available bounces around each year.

      • The Soup Fascist

        If there’s only 1 G available and 1 team needs a goalie, maybe.

        CHI was not, IMO a team that needed to make that kind of deal because a team as good as them should be able to find a goalie looking to parachute into a great situation for “below market rate”.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Did Stan Bowman just lose his mind?
    Will an outlier contract like this one in to play in Dubnyk’s case? As ppinted out, it would seem obvious that the Cup trumped the stats in these negotiations.

  • Here’s the EVEN STRENGTH SV% for every goalie in the NHL who has played at least 3000min from 10/11 – 12/13

    Even strength SV% has proven to be a superior way to measure goalies than straight SV% as the short handed SV% for most goalies fluctuate wildly from year to year and are not repeatable (subject to a lot of luck)

    Here they are:

    THOMAS, TIM 93.77




    NIEMI, ANTTI 93.01

    RINNE, PEKKA 93.01

    RASK, TUUKKA 92.98


    SMITH, MIKE 92.79


    HOWARD, JIMMY 92.63

    LEHTONEN, KARI 92.62

    REIMER, JAMES 92.62

    VOKOUN, TOMAS 92.6

    MILLER, RYAN 92.58


    PRICE, CAREY 92.51


    WARD, CAM 92.5

    HILLER, JONAS 92.44



    DUBNYK, DEVAN 92.36




    THEODORE, JOSE 92.22




    ELLIOTT, BRIAN 91.78


    BUDAJ, PETER 91.7


    HEDBERG, JOHAN 91.58




    GARON, MATHIEU 91.18

    MASON, STEVE 91.17



    Craword is 22nd (DD is 23rd)

    Also, no wonder MacT went hard after Schneider, he’s up in heady company for sure.

    Looks like based on today’s cap that CHI overpaid.

    Most long term contracts today are betting (correctly imo) on a $90MM cap in 5 years.

  • The Soup Fascist

    This is a contract the Hawks could regret. Crawford is the current day Chris Osgood. Good goalie on a great team that wins a Cup. GOOD goalies should not make $ 6 million a year – not even sure GREAT goalies should get high dollar long term contract like this given their often rapid decline back to mediocrity.

    Don’t think it is much of a concern that this signing will drive up Dubey’s potential upcoming contract, unless the Oilers win the Stanley Cup this spring.

    No worries here.

    • -The current day Chris Osgood?-

      I don’t know why, but this drives me nuts.

      Chris Osgood is top ten ALL TIME in wins, for both regular season AND playoffs.

      If he gets docked for playing on the Red Wings, do Brodeur and Roy get docked for playing with All Star teams too?

      Those Dallas teams with Belfour were pretty stacked. Does he get docked too?

      I hate the Red Wings too, but give a guy a little credit.

      Plus, Crawford is the new J.S. Gigure…

      • The Soup Fascist

        Not trying to dis the guy, but the prevalent belief was he was an adequate goaltender on an excellent team. If you think he was in the same league as Brodeur and Roy, you are entitled to that belief as I am not the guy who has the same inclination or ability as others to present stats to refute that assertion.

        But I did see both Roy with the Canadiens and Brodeur with the Devils win cups on their backs with inferior teams. I cannot say that with Osgood. Was he a better person than either of these other guys – likely safe to say yes. Was he in the same league as a goaltender – I don’t believe so.

        • Spydyr

          I wouldn’t put him the same class as Brodeur and Roy. Those two are in a class by themselves anyway.

          I watched enough Red Wings playoff hockey to believe Osgood was a better than average playoff performer.

          He played in the era of Brodeur, Roy, Hasek, Belfour, and Joseph and still managed to get his name on the Cup as a starter, twice.

          For an adequate goalie, that’s pretty impressive….

          • The Soup Fascist

            Again if that is your belief I respect it. The guy had a wonderful career, I don’t begrudge him that. All I am saying is I can’t recall him stealing games of any importance. And for me that is what great goaltenders do.

            Did you read the link provided by Willis? Some very interesting numbers. Again I don’t purport to be a stats guy, but the numbers he provided are compelling and would seem to support that Osgood was an adequate to good but not great goaltender. Right place / right time.

            And ……. Good for him.

        • Old School G

          I was checking in to this JW, it lead me to come across Ty Conklin as Osgood’s tandem starting net partner for the 2008-2009 season.

          Ty Conklin posted a 25-11-2 2.51 GAA season. Detroit went with Osgood in the playoffs and he took them all the way to Game 7 of the Cup Finals. Osgood won when it counted, he is the man.

          Ty Conklin always intrigued me, this particular season was a real good one for him it’s too bad he could never put it all together, he played in fewer games but posted even better numbers for the Blues in 2009-2010 and then completely fell apart, I always thought he was a pretty good goalie.

          Tandem goaltending works out incredibly well for teams. If your starter can put up a quality 50ish games for your team, with your backup holding his own for the 30ish games that he’s called upon, all a team has to do is time it right and your starter, Dubnyk, is full steam ready to win some games for the boys in the playoffs. Jason Labarbera has put up solid numbers starting anywhere from 15-45 games. I really like how this season is going to shape up for us in net.

        • I wasn’t putting him on the HHOF ballot.

          But, I think he gets the shaft in the public’s perception.

          You still ahave to win 16 playoff games to win the Cup. He’s done it twice.

          I don’t think he’s in HOF territory, but he’s in the next tier, IMO.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    IF he winds up with equal or slightly better #s, Doobie should get a 3yr/$10M deal.

    IF Doobie “stones” the opponents on a regular basis and knocks it outta the park, re-up him for 6yr/$33M.