When the Blues season came to a screeching halt in Chicago a few weeks ago and the dust had settled, GM Doug Armstrong made a surprising yet strong statement. Jake Allen would be with the Blues next year regardless who else was on the roster.
We now know “who else” is Brian Elliott, courtesy of his new three-year deal he signed to stay in St. Louis.
But if you look really closely and pay attention to what the Blues are saying and how they’re trying to accomplish their ultimate goals, this deal is more about Jake Allen. The Blues know what they have in Elliott. He’s a solid goaltender who may not profile as a dominant #1 but certainly doesn’t embarrass himself when put into that role.
However, after getting ousted yet again in the first round of the postseason, the Blues realize to get to the next level they need stars. They need their version of Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews.
But the question remains: How do they get them?
Well, those types of guys don’t become available in free agency. They just don’t. They are locked up well before their contracts expire. How about the trade market? Didn’t the Blues just try that with Ryan Miller? Plus, even if a team was willing to give up a superstar in a trade they’d want so much in return it almost wouldn’t even be worth it.
As Doug Armstrong said after the season, doing something like that would be “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
So if the free agent market and the trade market are out as far as getting their own super duper stars, what’s left? Yep. You guessed it.
That’s it. That’s all the Blues can do to get their stars. They have to draft them and develop them and hope it all works out. And Jake Allen provides them their best chance for that type of player. Now, at 23 years old, he’s far from a sure thing.
But at this point what other option do they have? Go out and spend a trillion dollars on a free agent who has already reached his ceiling as an NHL goalie? No thanks.
The Blues would be much better off giving the kid who still is just scratching the surface of his potential a chance to be their Jonathan Quick. It may work. It may not. If it doesn’t, well, they’ll just have to draft someone else and hope he works out.
But all Brian Elliott is at this point is an insurance policy in case Allen doesn’t emerge as the team’s #1 goalie. That’s it. He’s Mark Ellis to Allen’s Kolten Wong. And just like with the Cardinals if Wong doesn’t work out this year at least they have someone who will do a solid job.
That’s Elliott. If Allen doesn’t step up and play well enough to warrant a ton of starts at least the Blues know they have someone who will do a decent job. And Brian Elliott will if that scenario plays out.
Make no mistake about it though. The future of the Blues goaltending revolves around 23-year old Jake Allen.