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Blackhawks remain “hopeful” that Corey Crawford will join team for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers

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The NHL restart is fast approaching, and the Chicago Blackhawks have a goaltending dilemma on their hands.

Corey Crawford, their starting netminder, has been deemed “unfit to play” since the start of training camp, and there hasn’t been a positive update about his status in some time.

What stands out with the four goalies currently at camp with the team (Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matt Tomkins), it’s clear that they don’t have a reliable, veteran option in net to fill the void left by Crawford’s absence. If they have any shot at upsetting the Edmonton Oilers, they will need Crawford between the pipes. Despite the lack of updates, the Blackhawks front office remains optimistic that he will be ready in time for the start of the season.

“I think we’ll be able to give you a better idea when we get closer to the weekend. But that’s something we’re still shooting for. I don’t have any definitive comments right now, but we’re still hoping that’s the case.” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said about Crawford’s availability.

“At this point nothing’s been ruled out…We still have a fair amount of time until Aug. 1 and the first game. We’re not thinking that far ahead right now. We’re really kind of here day to day. Like we said at the outset, right now Corey’s not here, so we’re focused on the other four goalies. If and when Corey’s ready, then we’ll have that conversation. But I think it’s best to stick with where we are today, and not jump too far ahead.”

The 35-year old has posted a 16-20-3 record, 2.77 goals-against average, and a 91.7 save percentage in 40 games this season.

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Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk forced to retire due to eye injury

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He still has enough left in the tank, but health reasons have forced him to ride off into the sunset.

Veteran New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk announced his retirement from hockey on Tuesday due to an eye injury that has made it unsafe for him to play moving forward.

The 36-year old’s career spanned 13 seasons. During that span, he played in 725 regular season games split between the Islanders, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. He amassed 54 goals, 152 assists and a plus-88 rating throughout his career.

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MacKenzie Weegar returning to Florida Panthers on three-year, $9.75 million contract

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The Florida Panthers were able to lock up one of their key defenceman to a multiyear deal on Friday.

The team has agreed to re-sign 26-year old MacKenzie Weegar to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $3.25 million.

“MacKenzie is a solid two-way competitor who brings tenacity and skill to our lineup,” said Panthers General manager Bill Zito.

“He has developed into a key member of the Panthers both on and off the ice and we look forward to him taking the next step in his career.”

The contract is backloaded and will break down as follows: $2 million next season, $3 million in 2021/22, and $4,75 million during the final season in 2022/23.

Weegar, who was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Draft, has amassed 13 goals, 28 assists, 133 penalty minutes and a plus-8 rating over a span of four NHL seasons.

He posted a career-best seven goals and 11 assists while averaging 20:07 minutes of ice-time a game this past season.

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Rangers re-sign Ryan Strome to two-year deal

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The New York Rangers have avoided arbitration with forward Ryan Strome.

The team agreed to sign the 27-year old to a two-year, $9 million contract with an average annual value of $4.5 million.

Strome’s camp initially requested $5.7 million while the Rangers countered with $3.6 million.

They were able to reach a contract just before arbitration.

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