(HockeyStL) - With three National Hockey League-ready goalies under the Blues’ control, one can only anticipate that a move will be made sooner rather than later. As of right now, the Blues would be most-willing to move Brian Elliott, but that doesn’t mean they’re currently shopping him.
However, it’s only a matter of time. Goaltenders always seem to be the talk of the team. Whether it is talk of trade, debating who should be playing on any given night, or the nightly praise and criticism that comes with the position, goalies are always a topic for discussion on any team, perhaps more so with the Blues.
On their NHL roster, the Blues currently have Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. The tandem is regarded as one of the best combinations of a starter and backup in the NHL. Two years ago, Halak and Elliott won the League’s Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed against. The Blues liked, and still like having both Halak and Elliott on their roster, but it would be crazy for the Blues to not explore trade possibilities.
A few weeks ago, Canadian reporters started speculating that the Blues would be open to moving Elliott, 28, should a solid offer present itself. According to TheFourthPeriod.com, the Edmonton Oilers inquired about Elliott this past week, but nothing formulated.
At this point, the Blues may not be interested in moving Elliott. Halak has started the season with a 5-1 record, but should things go south, Elliott would be very useful. General Manager Doug Armstrong considers having Halak and Elliott in the NHL, and Jake Allen in the American Hockey League, a strength for his club.
“When (last) season ended, and the emotion subsided, I talked to Ken (Hitchcock) probably about (goaltending) more than anything, where we would have been if we didn't have one of these three guys last year? So if there's something that's a way to improve our team, we always look at doing that. But it's a strength, for me, after a time of reflection,” said Armstrong this past offseason.
Shopping a goaltender isn’t a new situation for the Blues. This past offseason, the club decided to feel out the interest of other NHL teams in Halak. Halak drew some interest from around the league, but nothing Armstrong and the Blues felt comfortable with. Now the Blues have elected to give Halak another chance to perform, and it’s only a matter of time before the team gets serious about moving Elliott.
Elliott is good for the Blues, make no mistake about it. Not many teams have a better backup than the Blues do in Elliott. But the Blues are in a precarious situation. Elliott signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract in 2012, which expires after this season. The Newmarket, ON native is making $1.9 million this season. That is a lot of money to be sitting on the bench for the bulk of the season. For a Blues team that has dedicated itself to becoming more cost-efficient, it’s money that could be better spent.
The franchise knows it is highly unlikely they will be bringing back Elliott after this season. Both he and Halak are unrestricted free agents at the season’s end. Allen, who has proven he is NHL-ready, will almost certainly be rewarded with a spot in the NHL next season. It’s in the Blues’ best interest to get something for Elliott while they can.
This situation is almost identical to the one the Blues were in during the 2011-12 season. Elliott stole the show in that season and stole an NHL spot away from prospect Ben Bishop. The Blues were forced to trade Bishop at the trade deadline and were compensated with a second-round draft pick. What’s different this time is that the team is more willing to give the NHL spot to their prospect. It’s also likely that Elliott would fetch more than a second-round pick, since he has proven himself these past two seasons with the Blues.
The Blues will likely let the situation play itself out for another month or so, fielding interest from around the league, and examining their options. As the trade deadline draws closer, and teams become desperate, expect the Blues to become more serious about trading Elliott. No matter how the situation plays out, it is a win. Whether they get a nice return for Elliott and better their team, or they hang onto the goaltender for the remainder of the season, the Blues don’t lose anything.