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Mailbag: Crawford's future with Blackhawks; Devils' coach, GM search's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Here is the March 25 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.


Do you think the Chicago Blackhawks will re-sign Corey Crawford and what do you think he's going to get for a deal? -- @goingtopshelf

I can see the Blackhawks signing the 35-year-old goalie to an incentive-laden one-year contract. It might require two years to get it done, but ideally, if they go back to Crawford, it's for one year. He has performed admirably this season with a .917 save percentage and 2.77 goals-against average in 40 games for a team that allows the most shots on goal per game in the NHL (35.1). I hesitate to think the Blackhawks will want to get into the unrestricted free agent market that could include Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom and Robin Lehner. That's going to require more years and likely more dollars than Chicago might be able to afford at this point, especially with forward Alex DeBrincat's NHL salary-cap charge rising to $6.4 million starting next season (he's in the last year of his three-year entry-level contract and counts for less than $1 million per season on the cap now). If the Blackhawks wanted Lehner on a long-term contract, they likely would have already given one to him. Instead, they signed him to a one-year contract this offseason and then traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights during the season. The Blackhawks will eventually have to figure out their long-term plan at goalie, and if either American Hockey League goalies Collin Delia and/or Kevin Lankinen should be part of it, but Crawford is a reasonable short-term solution.

Video: ANA@CHI: Crawford robs Henrique with his pad


Are the New Jersey Devils searching for a general manager and coach? Captain? -- @EzBm3165

Things are quiet on the coach and GM fronts across the NHL, for obvious reasons. I would expect Devils managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, along with executive vice president Martin Brodeur, are analyzing the work general manager Tom Fitzgerald and coach Alain Nasreddine did after being given their jobs during the season, while also evaluating outside candidates. But I can't suggest any changes will be made with the season on pause due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The Devils have time to make these decisions and could be waiting to operate under a timetable that hopefully will be given to them by the NHL with regards to the resumption of the 2019-20 season and the rest of the calendar, including the NHL Scouting Combine, 2020 NHL Draft and the start of free agency.

From my view, the Devils have a quality GM in Fitzgerald, who has bided his time and worked as an assistant GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Devils. He would likely be a top candidate for a GM opening somewhere else, so he should be that in New Jersey. He handled himself well at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline. The Devils got a first-round draft pick and defenseman prospect Nolan Foote, who was a first-round pick last year (No. 19), from the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Blake Coleman. The Devils traded a quality player, but it was a move for the future. Coleman is 28 and has one year left on his contract. The Devils also got a second-round pick from the New York Islanders in a trade for captain and defenseman Andy Greene, who is 37 and a pending unrestricted free agent. The Devils also traded pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Sami Vatanen while he was injured to the Carolina Hurricanes for a conditional third-round draft pick, forward prospect Janne Kuokkanen and defenseman Fredrik Claesson. Fitzgerland did well in building the Devils' future. 

Nasreddine has fared well enough to warrant consideration to continue as coach. The Devils are 19-16-8 under Nasreddine, who took over for John Hynes on Dec. 3. They are 11-5-5 in 21 games since Jan. 27 for a .643 points percentage that is ninth in the NHL in that time. The defense and goaltending have improved under Nasreddine; the Devils allowed 2.62 goals per game in their past 21 games after giving up 3.41 per game in their first 22 games under Nasreddine. Their special teams are also among the best in the NHL in the 21-game stretch: 27.5 percent on the power play (third) and 89.8 percent on the penalty kill (first). Nasreddine deserves credit for making New Jersey a formidable opponent since the All-Star break.


If the Philadelphia Flyers win the Stanley Cup this season, can you see Claude Giroux handing the Stanley Cup to Oskar Lindblom first? -- @theashcity

This is a no-brainer. Lots of ifs with the question, including the uncertain future of this season, but provided all the ifs pan out, and Lindblom is healthy enough and feeling well enough to be there for the celebration, it seems fitting that Giroux, the Flyers captain, would find the 23-year-old forward who is battling cancer soon after he receives the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. It's a completely different circumstance, but it would be reminiscent of when Steve Yzerman handed the Cup to a wheelchair-bound Vladimir Konstantinov after the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals in the 1998 Stanley Cup Final. It was one year and three days after Konstantinov was in a limousine accident that ended his playing career. Konstantinov was a source of strength and inspiration to the Red Wings in the 1997-98 season, and Lindblom has been the same for the Flyers because of the gracious way he is handling his personal battle since being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in December. The outpouring of support for Lindblom from the Flyers, their fans, players and teams around the NHL, and the entire hockey community, has been the ultimate bright spot in what is an otherwise challenging and difficult situation. Giving it to Lindblom would be the right move and it would provide a great symbol of the Flyers' strength. No one has been stronger than Lindblom.

Video: BUF@PHI: Giroux nets backhander from the doorstep


Who do you see behind the Minnesota Wild bench next season? -- @TJRinger1

The pause makes it hard to fully evaluate the job Minnesota coach Dean Evason has done since replacing Bruce Boudreau, who was fired Feb. 14. What we do know is the Wild have responded well to him. They are 8-4-0 in Evason's 12 games as coach, including a 5-4 overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks on March 7, the last game they played before the pause. The Wild gave away leads of 2-1 and 4-3, but forward Kevin Fiala scored in overtime. Fiala has thrived under Evason with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in the 12 games. None of that has to mean Evason is the right guy for the job, but it means general manager Bill Guerin should be giving him a great deal of consideration. 

However, if I had to place a fictional bet on it right now, I would be hard-pressed not to put my fake money on Gerard Gallant. The job he did as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights under unique circumstances elevated his stock. The Wild are making a move to go younger, but there are enough veterans in key roles who would enjoy playing for Gallant, who certainly got a lot out of his Golden Knights players and without question earned their respect and admiration. They appeared broken up when he was fired Jan. 15. Gallant is a no-nonsense coach who can speak to and understand NHL players because he used to be one. In addition, Guerin has firsthand knowledge of the kind of coach Gallant is because his two seasons playing for the New York Islanders (2007-09) coincided with Gallant's tenure as their assistant and they worked closely together on the power play. The Wild make sense for Gallant because they're not far from becoming a contender, provided the young forwards -- Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Ryan Donato, Joel Eriksson Ek, and, if he comes over from Russia, Kirill Kaprizov -- continue to develop.

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