Blues Set to Stick With Allen-Elliott Tandem
St. Louis appear set to stick with Jake Allen and Brian Elliott next season after general manager Doug Armstrong praised the pair in an interview with Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Disptach.
“I can see us coming back with both goaltenders,” Armstrong said. “I thought when I looked at it at the end of the season, we were very fortunate to have two goaltenders that were there to grab the ball when it hit the floor. We had those significant injuries to both guys, and both guys took the challenge and then ran with it and then didn’t let the other guy back in the net until an injury.”
The duo missed a combined 30 games during the campaign, with the starting role passing between them as a result.
Veteran Elliott finished the season as number one, holding the job down the stretch and in to the playoffs as St. Louis made it to the Western Conference Finals, but Allen has shown progress in each of the past three seasons with many seeing the 25-year-old as the clubs long term option between the pipes.
“I like our goaltending,” Armstrong said. “I think Jake is still pushing towards being an upper-echelon goalie. He lost the net this year, Brian took it, Brian didn’t give it up. Kudos to Brian for that. I know what’s happening now Jake is preparing to wrestle it back in September, and we’re going to see how it goes down. But I would have zero issue if both of these guys came back and were asked to compete and fight.”
It leaves the Blues with a strong tandem heading in to the new campaign, as they look to finally get over the hump and compete for a Stanley Cup, but bigger decisions likely loom for Armstrong in 12 months time with a potential expansion draft on the horizon and strong prospects in the system.
Elliott, who posted a .930 save percentage last season, will become an unrestricted free agent in July 2017 while Allen is set to reached restricted free agent status.
With NHL clubs only able to protect one goaltender in the event of an expansion draft, St. Louis are almost certain to shield Allen leaving Elliott exposed and thus a likely candidate to be picked up by any new franchise following five impressive years in Missouri.
The loss of Elliott would not be a complete disaster for St. Louis however, with the 31-year-olds departure opening the door for top prospect Pheonix Copley to step up or Jordan Binnington or Ville Husso to stake a claim for a larger role within the organisation.
While Armstrong will need to make some sort of decision on his goaltending options in the coming year, the Blues GM should at least be confident in the clubs future between the pipes whichever path he chooses to go down.