Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald vowed to tackle his first free agent market with patience, and that’s exactly what he did Friday after the market opened at noon in the East.
Almost all night.
With lots of cap space to spend and pressing needs to address, the rebuilding Devils made a big move about an hour before the clock struck 12 midnight by signing veteran goalie Corey Crawford to a two-year, $7.8-million pact.
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What an intriguing addition this was.
Crawford, 35, will go down in Blackhawks history as a franchise great because the Montreal native was in the net for two Stanley Cup wins during his 13 mostly good seasons with Chicago, and this move filled a Devils hole because Cory Schneider, their No. 2 goalie last season when he wasn’t demoted to the AHL, was bought out on Thursday.
Now Crawford will be asked to play a lesser role both as an often-used No. 2 and mentor to starter Mackenzie Blackwood, who was pretty good as a rookie last season.
The Crawford signing was announced 24 hours after the Devils took advantage of a division rival being up against the cap when they acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets for just a fifth-round pick. With Murray, the second pick of the 2012 draft, seemingly over chronic back problems and expected to be a first- or second-pair defenseman next season, he could be a steal for the Devils even though he has just one season remaining on his contract.
That deal also filled a need, which leaves one pressing one for Fitzgerald, who would love to bring in a goal-scorer to play left wing on