There were some mixed reports coming out throughout Tuesday afternoon that the Chicago Blackhawks were talking to their backup goaltender Ray Emery about a new deal. Some, less qualified, sources even went as far as saying that the framework of a new three-year deal was done.
Regardless of what the reports say, it’s clear that the two sides are talking about a new contract, a few days before players are officially able to sign new deals as free agents. If the Blackhawks are going to sign him, they’ll want it done soon. So dialogue now makes sense, no matter to what degree they are in negotiations.
This is an intriguing situation for both the Blackhawks and Ray Emery’s camp. On one hand, you have a guy coming off of a season in which he finished 17-1, was part of a Jennings Trophy-winning duo, and provides stability in the event that anything happens to Corey Crawford.
From a Blackhawks perspective, it’s easy to see why bringing back Emery is the right move. Yes, they just signed goaltender Antti Raanta, but he has yet to play a game on American soil. Perhaps a year in Rockford, or even leaving him for an extra year over in Europe, is in the cards for him. Emery is as steady a backup as there is in the league, so you’d obviously want that guy to remain in the mix.
As for Emery’s point of view, it makes less sense. You have an opportunity to go out and finding a starting job, for probably big money, out on the free agent market. In Chicago, you’re a backup, albeit on a winning team. Most goaltenders, and players in general, would jump on an opportunity to cash in after a strong year, and perhaps cement themselves as a starter with another team. Unless Emery is truly happy playing second fiddle to Crawford in the Windy City, it’s hard to understand why he’d want a deal before he hits the market.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out, especially with Raanta, who was a coveted European prospect during the season. Emery is a very valuable part of this team, and bringing him back makes sense at the right price. But at the same time, what do you do with Raanta? What becomes of the situation in Rockford if you do or don’t sign Emery? Why isn’t Emery going to market to seek big money?
These are all questions that will become answers in the very near future.