Long term contracts for $5 million + appear to be more a "life sentence' than anything else.
Do you guys remember Cristobal Huet? (Let's bring it home first before we start exploring the other goalies around the league). On July 1, 2008 The Blackhawks made a splash by signing two big named unrestricted free agents. Brian Campbell and Cristibal Huet. Dale Tallon, as much as he had an eye for talent, was bloody awful at making sure the numbers coincided with the talent, and understanding how to run a club so that money isn't all tied up in unproven players during a salary cap era.
Cristibal Huet signed for an ungodly $22.4 million ($5.625m/per yr/4 yr contract). Huet struggled in the 08-09 season with a 20-15-4 record .909 Sv%, 2.53 GAA. Not what you expect from a guy you just gave $5.625m a year to. He played in exactly half of the regular season games splitting it with Khabibulin, but was benched for much of the playoffs and only played 3 games (1-2-0, .910 Sv%, and a gaudy 3.23 GAA). The next season Khabibulin left for Edmonton and he was supposed to be the MAN. Instead, he got benched after the season and only played 1 playoff game. His regular season stats for the 09-10 season were just as deplorable as the season before. (26-14-4, a despicable .895 Sv%, 2.50 GAA). AHL rookie goaltender from Finland Antti Niemi took over. He was placed as the starter and we all know what he ended up doing.....he won the cup while Huet sat in the trenches).
The following season the Hawks couldn't keep Niemi (mainly due to the gaudy salary that Campbell was receiving,...they had little to no wriggle room and San Jose won that chess match by forcing Chicago to keep Hjalmarsson,...then they came in and swooped up Niemi. Still one of the greatest salary cap chess moves I've seen in the new salary cap era).
Now, the Hawks buried the salary of Huet as he was 'borrowed' by the Swiss National League A by team HC Fribourg-Gotteron. This is where he stayed for two seasons while the Hawks buried his salary and developed their new goaltender talent in...COREY CRAWFORD.
Now, in steps Corey Crawford. He was slowly developed and made minimal appearances between the 2005-06 season to the 2009-10 season. In 2010-11 he stepped in as the full time presence in net for the Hawks. In his third season as netminder, Corey brought home the biggest prize (no,...not the Wm.M Jennings Trophy)....the Stanley Cup.
This is Corey's last season at $2.666m and then his contract comes to a close. So, as the Hawks trimmed a bunch of people's salary's, the salary cap went down $7m to a low $64.3m this season.
Who knows what the cap hit will be next year. However, the issues come with who will they have in net? Corey will expect a pay raise, and will he be looking to eclipse that $5m/per year mark? Most likely. How many years are the Hawks willing to extend an offer to Corey for? 3?.......5?.....7?
Let us assume the cap goes up, but only goes up slightly. Maybe to $66m or $67m yearly. This allows a little leeway for Corey to get paid. Now, let's look at the premier goalies and look at their contracts.
Hawks defeated this goaltender in the 2012-13 season: Tuukka Rask.
TUUKKA RASK: $7m/8 yrs. Will Crawford be demanding something like this when no one on the Hawks is being paid that kind of money? We'll see. I think $5 is what he'll be looking for, though.
ROBERTO LUONGO: $5.33m/12yr contract. Insane contract and when he wanted a trade last season, no one wanted to touch that gaudy contract. For his good fortune, new coach John Tortorella wanted to keep Luongo.
RYAN MILLER: $6.25m/ last year of contract. Don't expect him to get nearly the same offer from anyone other than Buffalo. I'm not so certain that they want to offer him that kind of money again, either.
MARTIN BRODEUR: $4.5m/last year of contract. Marty is almost done. He'll retire most likely.
CAM WARD: $6.3m/ 3yrs left on his contract. No way is he worth that kind of dough.
PEKKA RINNE: $7m/6 yrs left off of 7 year deal. He's a premier goaltender,...and this is what he is getting paid.
JONAS HILLER: $4.5m/ last yr of his contract. With Fasth ready to take his job, will he accept less?
VIKTOR FASTH: $2.9m/ 2 yrs left (technically a back up goaltender..and getting paid more).
MIKKA KIPRUSOFF: $5.833m/ last year. Trust me...he won't get NEARLY that anymore.
JAROSLOV HALAK: $3.75m/ last yr. Oh,...he's going to get paid.
NIKLAS BACKSTROM: $3.416m/ 3 yrs left. This would be a great contract for the Hawks if they could get away with that.
CRAIG ANDERSON: $3.187m/2 yrs left. Ottawa is happy with that.
MIKE SMITH: $5.667/ 6yrs left. This is what I think Corey Crawford will be looking at, unfortunately.
KARI LEHTONEN: $5.9m/ 5 years left.
JIMMY HOWARD: $5.292m/ 6yrs left on this contract. Again, the $5m+ range. This is where the Hawks will be heading with the Crawford contract.
SERGEI BROBOVSKY: $5.625m/ 2yrs ....awesome contract for the 'Jackets. If he lets the team down,....boom...outta hear without feeling tied up. This is what I would like to see the Hawks do with Corey.
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: $6.875m/ last year of his contract. He'll probably get close to the same offer. He has been unbelievable for the Rangers.
COREY PRICE: $6.5m/ 5 years remaining. GULP, YIKES. (Let's hope this isn't the case for the Hawks).
MARC ANDRE FLEURY: $5m/ 2 yrs remaining. 1 Stanley cup, 2 appearances. But, lost his job in the playoffs last year. Something to keep in mind.
ANTTI NIEMI: $3.8m/ 2yrs remaining. Love this contract. Doug Wilson,...you were a genius.
JONATHAN QUICK: $5.8M/ 10 year deal. Not crazy about the length of the deal, but for the money they tied him up at,....wow. Amazingly done.
Alright.....That is the look at the salaries of many of the top goaltenders. See a trend here? It's about $5m+ (up to $7m) for a premier goaltender. If the Hawks could manage a 4 year contract at $5.6ish,... I think they scored big.
The Hawks will be keeping an eye on Antti Raanta's progress. Expect him to get the call next season to replace Nikolai Khabibulin.