The Blues made a hard-line decision not to re-sign goaltender Ryan Miller, and as a result, general manager Doug Armstrong hopes the two goalies he’s put in place for the 2014-15 season will prove him right.
Brian Elliott and Jake Allen are both competitive and capable, but Armstrong acknowledged they are unproven as the backbone of a Stanley Cup-contending team.
Over the past four seasons, the Blues have relied on Jaroslav Halak, who didn’t have a lengthy playoff resume but possessed more postseason experience than Elliott. The same could be said for Miller after he was acquired for Halak.
“Yeah, since the Halak trade (with Montreal in 2010), this is probably the year with the most uncertainty in the position,” Armstrong said. “There’s a lot of promise in these guys, but there’s certainly not the track record that Halak had or Miller had. So now these guys are going to have to come in here and back up my thoughts that they’re ready to do the job.”
Elliott, 29, will be back after signing a three-year, $7.5 million extension. In three seasons here, Elliott is 55-24-7 with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .927 save-percentage.
“If you look at his numbers, just take his numbers over the last four years, you would wonder why he hasn’t had this job prior to now,” Armstrong said. “The future is now for Brian Elliott.”
Allen, 23, will be with the Blues full-time for the first time in his career. Two years ago, in spot duty for the club, he went 9-4 with a 2.46 GAA and a .905 save-percentage. He signed a two-year, $1.6 million extension, but played last season in the American Hockey League.
In his fourth and final season in the AHL, Allen went 33-16-3 with a 2.03 GAA and a .928 save-percentage with the Chicago Wolves. He was the league’s goaltender of the year.
“He’s put in the time,” Armstrong said. “His numbers are outstanding, too. They’re both coming in here with no safety net of an experienced goalie.”
Jordan Binnington, a third-round pick in 2011, is expected to play with the Wolves next season. The 20-year-old is in line to step up as the Blues’ third goaltender, but he is inexperienced with only one AHL game on his resume.
Binnington was 23-13-3 with a 2.35 GAA and a .922 save-percentage with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL last season.
The Blues have some depth at the goalie position with Niklas Lundstrom, a fifth-round pick in 2011, and prospect Francois Tremblay, a fifth-round pick in 2012.