No doubt about it, the Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the most disappointing teams during the 2017-18 NHL season. The team entered the season with the best Stanley Cup odds of any team in the league, but failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in a decade and sit dead last in the Central Division with a dreadful 31-36-10 record. The loss of key players like Marian Hossa, Artemi Panarin and Nicklas Hjalmarsson this past offseason proved to be too costly for the Hawks this season, but the loss of goaltender Corey Crawford to a head injury back in December may have been the biggest factor in the team’s downturn.
Crawford hasn’t played a game since December 23rd, 2017 and in fact has only taken the ice to practice a few times since. When Crawford went down just two days before Christmas, he had an outstanding 16-9-2 record, a 2.27 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. It’s clear that he’s been missed.
The troubling thing is, don’t count on him being back anytime soon… perhaps ever. While Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has remained optimistic about a Crawford return at some point this season, the veteran coach has changed his tune as of late.
Just yesterday, Blackhawks insider Scott Powers wrote an article for The Athletic and dropped a bomb on Blackhawks fans: Crawford may never return.
In net, Crawford’s future is the biggest unknown. He hasn’t played a game since Dec. 23, and it’s unclear when he’ll be healthy enough to get on the ice again. For every step forward he’s taken in his recovery in recent months, it has seemed as if he's taken a step backward. At least publically, the Blackhawks remain optimistic about Crawford, but there are no definite answers about when he’ll be ready to play or whether he’ll be the same player.
Oh man… you have to feel for Crawford. The 33 year old goaltender is seemingly in the prime of his career, only to have things cut short by his own brain. And how about the Blackhawks? The proud franchise is arguably the closest thing fans have to a true Dynasty since the 90s Detroit Red Wings or the 80s Edmonton Oilers. But without Crawford in goal, do you really see this team qualifying for the playoffs next season? Fat chance. If Crawford is in fact done and is forced to call it a career, chances are the Blackhawks rebuild will follow.
Blackhawks sign NCAA superstar Sikura
According to a report from Scott Powers of The Athletic the Chicago Blackhawks have signed NCAA superstar Dylan Sikura to an entry-level contract
Details of the contract to come.
Sikura is a former 6th round pick (178th overall) of the Hawks from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, the native of Aurora, Ontario has had a stellar college career with Northeastern. The 22-year-old forward put up 22 goals and 54 points in just 35 games, following up on his remarkable 21 goal, 57 point season from a year ago.
DobberProspects.com’s Tony Carr projects the 6’0”, 165 lb Sikura to be a bottom-six forward in the NHL with some offensive upside. He’ll need to add some muscle and bulk to his 6 foot frame, but once he does he could become the Hawks’ next version of Andrew Shaw or David Bolland.