The St. Louis Blues waited until late afternoon of the first day of free agency to test the waters. It was not the player anyone hoped for that got signed first.
The St. Louis Blues have made their first official free agent signing of the 2020 NHL free agency period. It was not the player most fans hoped for and was somewhat of a head-scratching selection.
The Blues have signed Jon Gillies to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 if he plays in the NHL and $375,000 if he plays for the Springfield Falcons in the AHL. The latter scenario is the most likely, but it is still somewhat puzzling.
Gillies is not a bad goaltender, but we don’t know what he’ll be yet. He has a grand total of 12 NHL games to his name, 11 of which came last season (2019-20) with the Calgary Flames.
In those 11 games, he went 3-5-1. For non-math majors, that’s nine games, so he came in relief in the other two games.
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He posted a less than stellar save percentage of .896, but a reasonable 2.88 goals against. Calgary is not the best defensive team in the world, so who knows how much you can judge based on that.
He’s played 160 games in the AHL, with a career statline of 2.92 goals against and a .906 save percentage. Again, not terrible, but not eye-popping either.
Overall, like the Blues first-round draft choice, I have no problem with the player, in and of himself. My issue is the idea of what are we doing here.
We can make the argument that it’s just a depth signing to help fill out your minor league roster, but there were not other options? Most of the analysts put Gillies as third on the Blues depth chart behind Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso.
So, a guy from outside of your own system with only 12 NHL games under his belt is your insurance policy? I mean any NHL experience is more than none, but it just doesn’t compute for me.
I accept this is a player that can give some help to Joel Hofer on what it takes to get to the next level. He’s also a 2020 prototypical netminder at 6’6, 223 lbs.
It just seems like there might have been other options if you’re really looking for insurance. To me, the eggs are all in Husso’s basket to be the backup right now and we have to hope the two NHL goalies are healthy.
To me, it also signals the death knell for Evan Fitzpatrick’s career with the Blues. Fitzpatrick already spent most of his last season in the ECHL, under the assumption it was to get games as a starter.
Now, the Blues bring in someone almost as unproven to slot in at the AHL level. Fitzpatrick is basically out of the equation.
Hopefully the Blues stay healthy and Gillies does a fine job in Springfield. I just have reservations if they actually have to bring this guy up to the NHL at all.