The St. Louis Blues know who their starter will be in net for 2020-21, whenever that begins. Past that, there are a lot of questions.
The St. Louis Blues have indicated they are going to give Ville Husso every opportunity to be the team’s backup goaltender in 2020-21. The front office still believes he can be a starting goalie, or at least a 1B type.
Doug Armstrong and company knows this will be a pivotal year for their goaltending situation. They have to find out what Husso can do and what pressures he can face. They also have to figure out exactly what Jordan Binnington is going to be, since his contract is up.
However, despite the certainty in the starting role for Binnington, the Blues are apparently going to hedge their bets. According to Tom Timmermann of the Post-Dispatch, the Blues are going to be in the market for a veteran goaltender.
Before fans get all in a tizzy, Timmermann points out quickly that this veteran will be insurance. He will start the year in Springfield of the AHL and be called up if Husso struggles or there are injury problems.
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It really is just smart business. However, it also presents several problems.
Unless the Alex Pietrangelo situations changes, the Blues may still bring him back, which means the salary cap is going to be tight no matter how you slice it. That means you basically can’t bring in a veteran goalie for much more than the veteran minimum.
Most goalies are going to want at least a couple million in salary. That makes the cap crisis all the more difficult if this person had to be on the NHL roster for any extended amount of time.
That might be difficult once the goaltending carousel begins since teams start freaking out and want to throw money at players. It won’t be just about salary either.
The likelihood is you might be leaning heavily on the term “veteran”. You almost have to find a guy that is on his last legs in the league, either career wise or age wise.
For example, if Binnington got injured or Husso struggled and you call this veteran up to the NHL, he better be on a two-way contract. If it’s a one-way deal and you simply start them in the AHL, you run the risk of losing that goaltender trying to put them through waivers if the Blues go back to their original duo.
Some might say what does that matter. This person would only be there for insurance anyway.
It matters because if the scenario is Husso struggling, you’re out of options once you give Husso a break. If you cannot send the new backup to the minors, you either lose the veteran or lose the ability to give Husso another shot later in the season.
Clearly, the best scenario is for Binnington to shake off the playoff disappointment and return to form and have Husso play around 25 games and get good looks. That way you just learn what you need to learn and don’t have to worry.
It’s a rare season when you play an entire year with just two goaltenders. Joel Hoefer and Evan Fitzpatrick are the goalies in the system and neither are NHL ready.
So, unfortunately, the Blues have to look outside for help. Hopefully Armstrong will find someone with talent but not price. It didn’t workout so well with Chad Johnson.