In their only signing of a player from outside the organization on this first day of free agency 2011, the Blues picked up 26-year-old Brian Elliott to create some competition for the backup role behind starting netminder Jaroslav Halak.
Elliott, a 6' 2, 201-pound native of Newmarket, Ontario, was Ottawa's ninth-round selection (291st overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft, and put in a solid four-year career at Wisconsin (WCHA) before joining the Senators in the spring of 2007.
With the Badgers, Elliot played a total of 86 games over four seasons, posting a 51-27-6 record with 16 shutouts. Over his career at UW-Madison, Elliot allowed just 148 goals on 2132 shots against in 4984 minutes played, registering a nice 1.78 goals-against average and a 93.1% save percentage.
As a junior in 2005-06, Elliot led the badgers to the NCAA Championship, and rewrote the UW goaltending record book on his way. Elliot set new single-season marks at Wisconsin for goals-against average (1.55), save percentage (93.8%) and shutouts (8). Appearing in 35 games for Mike Eaves' club, Elliot posted a 27-5-3 record, and rose to the occasion in big games. Against ranked opponents during the 2005-06 season, Elliot posted a 15-1-1 record, with a 1.23 GAA, 95.5% saves rate, and five shutouts in those games.
In 2005-06, Elliot also set a WCHA record with a shutout streak of 269:52, and became the rare goaltender to finish as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, won that year by Denver University star Matt Carle (now a Philadelphia Flyer).
Elliot joined the Bingahmton Senators of the AHL after his senior year in 2006-07, and went 3-4-0 with a 4.24 GAA and 88.6% saves rate down the stretch. The following year, Elliot appeared in 44 games for the B-Sens, putting up an 18-19-1 record with two shutouts, an improved 2.81 GAA and a much-improved 91.5% save percentage. He even got a cup of coffee with Ottawa that season, winning his only start 3-1 over Atlanta and earning the game's first star.
After putting up an 18-8-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.31 GAA and 92.6% saves rate in the first half of the 2008-09 season with Binghamton, Elliot made the NHL for keeps in January of 2009. He appeared in 31 games down the stretch for Ottawa that season, going 16-8-3 with one shutout, a 2.77 GAA and 90.2 save percentage. In a total of 130 career games with the Senators, Elliot posted a 59-45-15 record with nine shutouts, a 2.81 GAA and 90.3% saves rate in 7058 minutes.
At this season's trade deadline, Ottawa dealt Elliot to Colorado straight up for Craig Anderson, and Elliot essentially failed his trial period with the Avalanche. In 12 games for Colorado, Elliot posted only two wins and an OT loss, and a 3.83 GAA with an 89.1% saves rate.
This scouting report from Elliot's senior season at Wisconsin highlights some of his strengths and weaknesses:
Has been the back bone for the Badgers all season .. he's a rock in the crease and his consistency is astounding .. nearly unbeatable on the first shot at this level as his fundamentals and positioning are near flawless .. blessed with a sizable frame as his shoulders cover the upper portion of the net when he goes down to the butterfly .. handles speed well and remains patient with the shooter at all times .. the fluency to his lateral movement is phenomenal and has made many shooters shake their heads after he flashed from one side of the crease to the other to make the save .. has a quick glove and above average rebound control .. his puck movement has improved this season although it's still just average at best .. on top of his abilities he's a quality individual off the ice with leadership running through his blood .. has struggled a bit with following pucks through traffic and off speed shots still throw him off .. flexibility in his lower limbs should be improved .. a dependable back up likely but he is a winner and might find a starting job down the road.