St. Louis looks set to continue with the same tandem between the pipes next season, with general manager Doug Armstrong saying he believes both Jakes Allen and Brian Elliott will be back next season.
“I can see us coming back with both goaltenders,” Armstrong told Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“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.”
Allen and Elliott missed a combined 30 games last season, with the latter able to hold on to the starting job down the stretch and in to the playoffs as the Blues went to the Western Conference Finals.
The veteran puck stopper has occasionally been linked with a move away from St. Louis despite some strong play, posting an impressive 0.930 save percentage last year, as Allen has emerged as a capable NHL goaltender while top prospects Pheonix Copley and Jordan Binnington head up a strong crop of young goaltenders in the Blues system.
Both Allen and Elliott have one year remaining on their present deals, and Armstrong is predicting another battle for the starting job next season.
“I like our goaltending,” the Blues GM 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 (is) 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.”
The 2016-17 campaign may also go a long way to determining how St. Louis act in the event of an expansion draft, where only one of the pair would be protect-able. The likelyhood is that Allen, who is set to become a restricted free agent in 2017, will be shielded while Elliott, who will be a UFA, could be allowed to move on.
Whatever the Blues decision next summer, the club looks set to remain strong between the pipes in the coming campaign once again.