Corey Crawford has not attended training camp at all in this week. There have been a rising amount of baseless speculation online as to why. Shortly after today’s scrimmage, the New Jersey Devils released a short statement on Twitter and their website that he is Crawford has taken an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.
First and foremost, on the behalf of everyone at All About the Jersey, we wish Crawford the best with dealing with these personal reasons and that they are addressed with a favorable resolution.
Second and almost as foremost, I will not allow any further speculation about why Crawford is out. Personal reasons are just that. Personal. I do not care how much of an “in” you claim to have. I do not care what some random person that is not Corey Crawford on Reddit or Twitter or Facebook or wherever has to say about Corey Crawford. You and I do not know what is going on. More importantly than that, it is not our business because it is Crawford’s personal business. Just as baseless trade rumors are not welcomed, so will any baseless speculation about Crawford’s reasons for leaving will not be welcomed at All About the Jersey. If and when Crawford and/or the Devils want to share what happened, then that will be when it happens. Again, it is personal.
What is welcomed at All About the Jersey is speculation on what the Devils will do now. Indefinite absence is just that. It could be over next week. It could be for the whole 2021 season. We do not know. What we do know is that Crawford attended training camp at the beginning of it last week. He has been out for personal reasons for this whole week and so the Devils had to prepare as if Crawford will be unavailable. As a result, the Devils’ scrimmages have been split up in the net between Mackenzie Blackwood, Scott Wedgewood, Gilles Senn, and Evan Cormier. From what I could recall of the last two scrimmages on Wednesday and today, Blackwood and Senn were in the net itself. I do not think there was any doubt that Blackwood would be the #1 goaltender on the team. The question is now between the other three.
Neither are a particularly great option. Wedgewood has primarily played in the AHL for the last few seasons after getting lit up in Arizona. And in 26 games with Syracuse last season, he posted an overall save percentage of 89.3%. That is not good at all. He has experience and that is in his favor. However, it is not at all encouraging as an option that could see plenty of NHL action in this shortened and compressed season schedule. Senn is entering his second pro season in North America, so there is a case to be made that he could still be acclimating to the game. While he appeared in two games for the Devils last season, it was on an as-need basis as opposed to his performance commanding a call-up. Among qualified goalies at the AHL’s website, Senn’s 90.1% overall save percentage ranked 37th last season. It is not impossible for a goalie to post up less than encouraging numbers in the AHL and then go on to do well in the NHL. Blackwood did that. I am not so sure lightning can strike twice for New Jersey and Senn can do the same. That stated, he did play through the recent scrimmage so that could be a sign he has an inside track. Cormier split time between the AHL and ECHL and in his 11 AHL games he had an overall save percentage of 88.3%. I do not think Cormier will be anywhere near the New Jersey lineup unless two goalies get hurt.
If those are the three options, then the Devils may want to look for a fourth. Trying to acquire someone more viable at the NHL level, or at least more recently experienced, to support Blackwood may be a possibility over the next week. Teams will be demoting players to their taxi squads and their AHL affiliates, and some will be on the waiver wire. There could be goaltenders who were with a team on a tryout and end up being released. A trade is always a possibility. They may not be that good on their own. But if they are better than Wedgewood and Senn has not impressed the coaches enough to take a chance on him, then it may be the smart play for GM Tom Fitzgerald. And, again, an indefinite absence is indefinite. If all is resolved in the next few days and Crawford returns, then this is resolved too. The Devils have to act otherwise until then.