It's been an incredibly busy and extremely interesting day in St. Louis. First, the Blues traded for defenseman Jordan Leopold. Next, the team arguably caused even larger waves by sending Jake Allen down to Peoria while officially announcing that the team would use Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott the rest of the year.
Brace yourself, Blues fans. Things are going to get interesting.
Jaroslav Halak, the net is officially yours. Brian Elliott, the backup job is yours seemingly by default. GM Doug Armstrong commented that the Blues would role with a combo of Halak and Elliott the rest of the way, so don't count on Jake Allen making a return to the NHL this season.
Why not keep all three goaltenders at the NHL level? The Blues no longer have room for all three men due to their decision to keep eight defenseman (Leopold makes eight) with the team.
The Blues now place all of their faith in Halak. Honestly, he's not a bad man for the job. His record on the year isn't glamorous (6-5-1) and his save percentage (.897) needs to improve (an improved D would help that), but overall his play hasn't been that bad. He owns a tidy 2.19 GAA and has made some spectacular saves when called upon. Fans shouldn't be concerned with Halak taking over the #1 job full-time.
As for the #2 role, that's where things get interesting. Very few fans have any faith in Brian Elliott, and honestly, it's pretty difficult to argue with them based on Elliott's play (3-6-1, 3.65 GAA) in 2013. However, it's important to remember that Elliott has started just eight games in 2013. Eight. Are we really ready to close the book on one of the best goaltenders from 2011-12 after eight starts and three cameos? If the season was one of normal length fans would admit Elliott is struggling but few would be so desperate to trade one of the men that carried the Blues deep into the playoffs in 2011-12.
Elliott is a piece I believe fits with the Blues beyond the shortened season. As for the present, it'll be fascinating to see what he offers if/when he gets another start.
I would say that I have a bad feeling about this, but...
Okay, fine, I have a bad feeling about this. But not really because Elliott is going to be the backup, or because Allen is returning to Peoria. Frankly, I'd have a bad feeling about this if we were sending Allen back down because we'd managed to resurrect the late-60s era Glenn Hall or Jacques Plante, because so many of this team's struggles have had so much to do with the team playing in front of the goaltender. Or failing to do so, depending on how you want to put it.
To me, this move signals to the boys that it's time to put up, or prepare for whatever might come in the offseason, because I can't imagine Doug Armstrong sitting on his hands indefinitely if the Blues close out the last third of the season the way they've played the first two thirds of it.
I think it also signals that, regardless of what the fans might think, the organization is finally throwing its support fully behind Jaro Halak. If he wants to prove that he's a true #1 going forward, and capable of playing the amount of games that's required of a true #1, this is his time. He's got the rest of this year, and next year, and then a decision will have to be made on him, too. In what seems to be the Blues front office fashion these days, it's "prove yourself" time for Halak.
@miendiem Finally, I'm rolling out content faster than you can reply! Today really is a special day.
@David Rogers Yeah, Army caught me out doing some last-minute shopping I needed to do before packing and getting my stuff moved for the new job. heheh Needless to say, the lazy afternoon sports talk radio shows had nothing, so the surprise was waiting for me on Twitter.