This afternoon, Ray Emery signed a one-year extension with the Chicago Blackhawks according to Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago, via Twitter. The backup netminder will reportedly make $1.15 million next season.
Emery, like counterpart Corey Crawford, had an up-and-down season in the Windy City. At times he won the starting goalie position, other times he rode the bench for weeks. According to our back-to-back tracker, the backup started 65 percent of consecutive games which gave him 27 starts, and 34 appearances, this year. Expecting Emery to start around 25-30 games next season seems reasonable but that’s not the reason the Blackhawks locked him up.
For the majority of the season, Emery’s presence did not allow the Blackhawks to slump. If Crawford played below his expectations, coach Joel Quenneville could simply turn to his 1A in order to give his club a much-needed boost. Keeping Emery around essentially ensures the situation will remain status quo next season which greatly diminishes Crawford’s draft value. Furthermore, it gives Emery the confidence that he needs to play at his highest level– in theory Emery is an option to get a start in the postseason if Crawford falters.
At $1.15 million, Emery more than doubles his salary this season. It also makes him a very cheap alternative to the backup position as a veteran like Chris Mason or Scott Clemmensen would command more on the open market. Certainly an excellent fit for both sides as Emery retains some fantasy hockey value and the Blackhawks take one more name off of free agency.