The New Jersey Devils have announced that goaltender Corey Crawford, who had already been absent from the last several days of training camp, will take an indefinite leave of absence from the club due to personal reasons.
Crawford, 36, signed a two-year, $7.8MM deal with the Devils in the offseason to become the partner and mentor for young Mackenzie Blackwood, who has shown starter-level promise in his short NHL career. The veteran netminder has spent his entire career to this point with the Chicago Blackhawks and actually had a nice bounce-back campaign in 2019-20. After dealing with lingering concussion issues, Crawford returned to post a .917 save percentage in 40 appearances last season.
There’s no information on why he is taking the leave or how long Crawford is expected to be away from the team. About as beloved of a teammate as you can find in the NHL, the entire hockey world is wishing him well.
The Devils will need to find a replacement goaltender for the time being and their depth chart isn’t exactly bursting with NHL options. Scott Wedgewood holds the most experience of the group with 24 NHL games, but hasn’t seen any time at that level since 2017-18. One suggestion from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is Scott Darling, who is expected to be released from his professional tryout with the Florida Panthers and would be an unrestricted free agent.