When Brian Elliott signed a two-year contract extension, locking up the Blues’ goalie tandem through 2013-14, general manager Doug Armstrong said that Elliott and Jaroslav Halak “are still young men basically entering that real meat of their career. Having them both ... it’s a great opportunity for them and us.” Only a year later, Armstrong says the Blues’ goaltending situation is “cloudy.” That’s because after leading the NHL in save-percentage with a mark of .929 in 2011-12, the club ranked 20th in the regular season this year at .902. And that was up from last in the league earlier in the season, thanks to a strong second half by Elliott and an impressive rookie debut by Jake Allen, who is casting a large shadow heading into the offseason. Halak and Elliott each have one more year remaining on their contracts, but it’s possible that only one will be back in 2013-14 and it’s not out of the question that the Blues could go in a completely different direction. “I think anything could happen,” Armstrong said. “It was a difficult year for both Elliott and Jaro, and I think Jake took great advantage of it. He’s proven to us now that he has to go in the equation. Brian got off to a poor start, resurrected himself, had a great finish. Jaro, unfortunately, had injuries. We were giving him the ball and then ... he got injured again, and the season progressed and he didn’t get back in the net. “So it’s a cloudy issue right now to be honest with you, our goaltending situation, because of how the season has progressed. It’s a positive cloud in one sense, in that Jake has given us things we have to look at.” Halak, 28, will be paid $4.5 million in ‘13-14, finishing the four-year, $15 million contract he signed with the Blues after being acquired from Montreal. He had a record of 6-5-1 this season with a 2.14 goals-against average and an .899 save-percentage. Elliott, 28, is due $1.9 million next season, ending the two-year deal he signed last year. It was a tale of two seasons for him, wrapping up 14-8-1 with a 2.28 GAA and .907 save-percentage. Meanwhile, the Blues have Allen, 22, who will be a restricted free-agent at the end of his three-year entry-level contract in June. He backstopped the Blues at critical times this year, finishing 9-4 with a 2.46 GAA and .905 save-percentage. Allen will not need to clear NHL waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League next season, which gives the Blues some flexibility, but following his performance this year, the club may not want him in the minors. “He’s certainly proven based on his work this year that he’s at the point now where I don’t think he’s going back to the American Hockey League,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think he needs more seasoning. He’s one of three right now ... he has proven to me that he deserves an opportunity to play in the NHL.”
Blues' goaltending situation is 'cloudy'
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | May 15