Tough Decision Ahead
With T.J. Oshie ready to return as soon as Saturday the Blues have a serious decision on their hands.
Someone needs to go before Oshie is taken off IR and there are a few options to consider.
Last year’s ALL-Star is spending more time in the pressbox than he is in the crease. Carrying three goalies is hardly conventional but then again there’s been nothing conventional about this season.
Are the Blues ready to commit to Jake Allen? If they are Elliott is the odd man out. People forget Allen is up for a contract extension after this season and as long as he continues to play well he’ll be eying a one-way deal. If he continues to win games he could find himself in the Calder discussion which only raises his value. The best comparable out there is Washington goaltender Braden Holtby who recently signed a two-year contract with a $1.850 million AAV.
Allen didn’t play great in Peoria during the lockout and the Blues want to be confident he’s ready to take the next step now. Things can change in a hurry with goaltenders so the question becomes, is Allen ready or is he just a hot goaltender?
Holtby has the edge in playoff games but who knows how this season will play out.
Jaro Halak gets the start Saturday in Edmonton and before this season is over he’ll be given the chance to reestablish himself as the Blues go-to goaltender.
You can argue Allen saved the Blues season and sending him back to Peoria now seems to make little sense. Moving Elliott would dilute the goalie depth but if he doesn’t factor into the plans moving forward you might as well get the process going.
Some suggest the Blues should entertain moving Halak which I disagree with. At this time Elliott doesn’t offer near the same protection Halak provides.
Owen Sound netminder Jordan Binnington is slated to play in the AHL next season.
You can be sure GM Doug Armstrong has spoken to several teams in an effort to gage the interest level in Elliott. Teams may rather hold off trading for him if they know they can get him for nothing on the waiver wire. That’s assuming there’s interest in taking on his $1.8 million salary next season. A team could ask the Blues to take back some of Elliott’s salary but I’d be surprised if Armstrong agreed to do that now.
He’d be more attractive at $1.3 than he is at $1.8.
It’s clear D’Agostini has lost his role with this club. He’s done little when given the opportunity which has to be frustrating for coaches and management. He’s spent time up and down the lineup including a number of games on the fourth line. Somewhere along the way he lost his confidence and he’s never recovered.
Early in the year sources say his camp approached the Blues about a trade but Armstrong wanted to keep his depth intact. It’s unlikely he falls into the plans beyond this year but that doesn’t mean the Blues are guaranteed to move him now. Health is always an uncertainty with this team and he does provide Ken Hitchcock with a body he can plug into a scoring role. He’s proved he can score in the past but now he has to be questioning where he fits in. The Blues have no options in Peoria to turn to should they hit the injury bug again later in the year.
The Blues could always send Porter back to the minors but the risk of losing him to waivers is in play. He’s a good fourth line player but at the same time let’s not get too carried away. He does serve a purpose even beyond this season with the potential departure of Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol. Ken Hitchcock said several days ago that Porter is here to stay but we all know there are no guarantees in the NHL. Except salaries that is.
The Blues could send Cole back to Peoria but carrying six D-men makes less sense than keeping three goaltenders.
Schwartz doesn't need waivers but his role with this club is only getting bigger. He's a smart player who scored his third goal of the season Tuesday in Vancouver. Sending him down doesn't even belong in this conversation.
Armstrong has done a good job of not allowing the goaltending situation to interfere with the Blues focus but the longer this drags on the greater potential a distraction becomes. We all know Elliott wants to play and this is never an easy situation for a goaltender to be in. You can be sure he’d welcome a move if the option becomes available.
Considering how quickly things change Armstrong may need all the time between now and the deadline to pull the trigger on a goaltending move.
By calling Allen up as quickly as he did Armstrong told the players and the fans this season matters. Whatever move is made will be well calculated.
More to come,
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