According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Blues goaltender Brian Elliott may be on the move in the near future.
On Sunday, Rutherford indicated to Blues fans on Twitter that there is “substance” to rumors that Elliott is being shopped.
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) October 13, 2013
While it may seem a bit surprising that the Blues would be willing to part with a man who was integral in bringing a Jennings Trophy to St. Louis just two years ago, there are several reasons why trading Elliott would make sense for the organization.
First, the Blues have made it no secret that they want Jaroslav Halak to get the majority of the starts as the No. 1 goalie this season. Halak stayed in St. Louis this past offseason to work on his conditioning and training in hopes of reducing his chances of re-aggravating a groin injury, which limited him to just 16 games last season.
Halak has not disappointed so far this season. He has posted a stellar .934 Save Percentage and a 1.75 Goals Against Average, all while leading the Blues to their first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Halak also made history on Oct. 5 against the Florida Panthers, setting a franchise record with his 17th shutout in a Blues uniform.
General Manager Doug Armstrong did not trade top prospect at the time Lars Eller-who is off to a torrid start for the Montreal Canadiens- for a part-time goalie. He wants Halak to take the reins as the team’s No. 1 goalie and lead the Blues deep into the playoffs.
Second, trading Elliott would free up some cap space for a Blues organization that has suddenly found itself pushed up against the salary cap limit. According to CapGeek.com, the Blues have roughly $860,000 in cap space.
Presumably, Elliott would fetch- at the highest- a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. Trading his $1.8 million cap hit would free up a bit more cap space if the Blues are interested in adding a piece at the deadline.
Third, moving Elliott would open up a spot for Jake Allen to be recalled from the Chicago Wolves and assume the backup goalie position. Allen endeared himself to Blues fans last season when he stepped up during a rough stretch for the team in February and March, helping right the ship with excellent goaltending.
Allen finished the season with a 9-4 record, leaving many Blues fans to wonder if one of Halak or Elliott would be traded in the offseason. However, the offseason came and went with neither goaltender being traded, forcing Allen to return to the minor leagues to start the season.
On the surface, the move made sense. Allen could further his development by spending the year starting in Chicago and be ready to step up if an injury occurred. If the Blues AHL affiliate was still the Peoria Riverman (RIP), this strategy would work, as the Riverman were owned by the Blues.
However, the Blues organization does not own the Chicago Wolves, who are in the business of winning games and generating revenue, not developing players for their NHL affiliate. Thus, Allen has been relegated to part-time duty four games into the season, splitting time with Matt Climie, who was the starter for the Wolves last season.
If this trend were to continue, it may make more sense to find a way to get Allen up with the big club again. While he would not play that many games, being around Halak and Goaltending Coach Corey Hirsch in practice could still be viewed as a positive for his development.
Finally, there are several teams in the NHL who may be in the market for a starting or backup goalie. The New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers immediately come to mind, as both have struggled to find any consistency at the goalie position.
Adding all of these factors up, shopping Elliott begins to make sense. Whether or not he will actually be traded, only time will tell.
However, as Rutherford pointed out, it is not hard to believe that there is “substance” to the Elliott trade rumors.
What do you think?
Should Elliott be traded? If so, what should they look for in return?
Let us know in the comments section below.