Home Hockey A closer look at St. Louis Goaltending
Brian Elliot

A closer look at St. Louis Goaltending

by Scott Huntington

The St. Louis Blues have a problem: they have too many good goaltenders. This is an outstanding problem to have in a league that is currently short on solid goaltending depth. While other teams are forced to use guys like Joey MacDonald and Devan Dubnyk as their starters, St. Louis boasts the ability to start their pair of 28-year old goaltenders Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak. Waiting in the wings is top prospect and future star Jake Allen (23 years old), who was a standout in Juniors and also for the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen. That’s a pretty impressive stable that most NHL clubs would pay a hefty price for, and that’s what the Blues are banking on.

 

Jaroslav Halak

Halak is best remembered for stepping in for an inconsistent Carey Price in 2010 and backstopping an underdog Montreal Canadiens team in a major upset of the 1st seed Washington Capitals, then upsetting the reigning Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the subsequent series.  Just as fans were about to elect him into the hall of fame, erect a statue in his honor, and give him a free Mustang, he was traded to St. Louis the following season and Price re-named the starter. St. Louis has benefitted from Halak’s strong play, and he’s continuing to play with this season. Currently he’s posting a .919 SV% and a 2.26 GAA. Not stellar, but solid enough for a 5-1-0 record in 6 starts. Halak should be the starter in St. Louis, and is having a good season while this team finds its identity. The Blues are a hard-nosed, tough team that gave the Kings a run for their money in the most brutal series of last season’s playoffs. That’s a good starting point, now they need to score goals.

Brian Elliot

Elliot’s numbers are a little misleading, as he’s only started once, and played twice. Based on the stats alone (3.53 GAA and .881 SV%) you’d be hard-pressed to argue Elliot’s worth, but he’s a quality goalie. A standout in Binghamton in the minors, he played well in Ottawa but was the victim of an unbalanced trade to Colorado for underrated Craig Anderson, a move that Colorado’s GM should regret. While with the underachieving Avalanche, Elliot struggled a bit and was let go, eventually finding his home, and his style, with the Blues. While not a star by any means, he backed up Halak during a rough patch and even challenged him for a starting role.

Who wants to trade?

The Blues could use a little more offense, and possibly one more solid defenseman. A good veteran to play with young forward Vladimir Tarasenko could do wonders for his game, a la Bill Guerin/Sidney Crosby. Does St. Louis wait till the trade deadline to pick someone up, or shoot now? They can afford to dump a goalie, likely Elliot, and bring an NHL-ready Jake Allen up from the minors to fill that role. At 28 and 23, Halak and Allen would have several good seasons left as a solid duo, both of whom very capable of handling a full NHL schedule. The Blues can be in the driver’s seat now, as other teams scramble to get tight in net. Once they figure out their greatest need, they can shop Elliot to potential trade partners.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and long-time hockey fan. He’s also the co-creator and admin of the hockey group Soft Dump. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

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