All Eyes on Blues Goaltenders as Draft Nears
As we approach the annual NHL draft the St. Louis Blues have more options than a Swiss Army Knife. No pun intended but it just so happens the two men pulling the strings next Sunday go by the name Army.
All eyes will be on GM Doug Armstrong and Director of Amateur Scouting Bill Armstrong as the Blues look to strengthen their roster for next season and beyond.
There’s a possibility we see the Blues right in the middle of the trade fracas that frequently breaks out at the draft. Anything goes with the Blues, who could easily move a goaltender and/or a defenseman. The potential of moving a forward is also in play if they’re able to get their hands on a player that instantly makes them better.
The Blues currently sit without a first round pick and obviously could try and jump up if a player high on their board falls further than expected.
I’d be surprised to see the Blues enter training camp with Jaro Halak, Brian Elliott, and Jake Allen still members of the organization. The period between now and Sunday seems to be the best time to make a move if you’re going to trade Halak or Elliott.
As I’ve said before, in my opinion, there’s greater risk in trading Halak than Elliott in terms of who has the better chance of sticking it to you down the road. Health is the biggest question with Halak who battled injuries much of last season. If he can stay healthy I feel confident in saying Halak will have a good year wherever he plays.
The unpredictability Brian Elliott brings to the table is what has me leaning towards Halak. Elliott has proven he can be a very good goaltender, but knowing which Elliott we’ll see next season is tough to guess.
Is there a risk in keeping Halak over Elliott? Sure, when you consider his health but at only 28 years of age you have a greater chance of regretting the decision down the road.
I’m not intending to sell Elliott, also just 28 years-old, short. He’s one of the harder working goalies in the NHL and has revived his career in St. Louis. There have been stretches where Elliott has been spectacular but with Jake Allen ready to take on a more significant role in the NHL, part of me just feels Elliott is more replaceable.
I feel comfortable in saying more teams view Halak over Elliott as a legitimate number one NHL goaltender. If the decision was based purely on ability the Blues almost certainly feel the same way. This decision comes down to more than just ability.
Halak brings a different dynamic from a personality standpoint but I’ve been around long enough to know you’re allowed to be different if you’re winning hockey games. He became an iconic figure in Montreal following his playoff performance in 2010 for what he did on the ice. There’s no reason to assume he can’t repeat that performance.
You never know, maybe the Blues will surprise all of us and trade them both.
Elliott is suited for the tight defensive game the Blues play under Ken Hitchcock. He’s certainly thrived in a system that reduces shots and scoring chances against. The Blues will likely look at opening things up next season in an effort to generate more scoring. If that’s the case, Halak provides a better security blanket playing behind a more aggressive group. At the very least it could mean a few more shots against per game.
Moving a D-Man?
Jordan Leopold is still in play for the Blues who have told the former University of Minnesota standout they want him back. Can they satisfy him financially is the question. Leopold, by all accounts, really liked it in St. Louis but might fetch a better deal in free agency.
If they do re-sign Leopold then a D-man will probably need to go. I’d be surprised if Armstrong brought eight D-men on one-way deals to training camp in September.
Kris Russell or Ian Cole seem to be trade candidates should the Blues come to terms with Leopold. This is barring an unforseen larger trade involving one of the Blues top six.
More to come,
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