Thank you very much, Matt Larkin. Your Hockey News piece sparked a conversation, a few short walks around my block, and a whiskey sip at noon. Should the St. Louis Blues pull the “what in the ass” move of the year by bringing back Brian Elliott six months after trading him away? It’s not a terrible idea, as Larkin thoroughly points out. Let me tell you what I think.
I wouldn’t be against it, and it may be a rightful kick in the ass to the Blues. Is it going to happen? No way, but who are we to work in the shadows of common sense at such a fun hour of hockey speculation. Elliott is in a contract year, drowning in the offices of Cal and Gary, and could use a bump. The Blues are among the worst in the NHL in save percentage and goals against average. Jordan Bennington and Pheonix Copley aren’t ready to dance with the devil just yet.
After months of observation, I can admit that the Blues handled the Elliott exit in a rough manner. The guy throws your team on his shoulders, and nearly takes you to the Finals. He does after years of being a very reliable fallback guy and long stretch starter when trade darlings Jaro Halak and Ryan Miller didn’t pan out. When Jake Allen wasn’t ready, Elliott was there. If there was a problem, all the Blues had to do was page the Moose. They can’t do that right now, and it’s painful.
Carter Hutton played in five games from January 10-12th, which wasn’t a part of anyone’s plan this past summer. Allen has flamed out and it’s just the halfway point of the season. The local narrative is familiar: let’s stand behind Allen and wait for him to get better. Do the Blues have that long? Can they run Allen and Hutton out?
Here’s something stat supported and not crazy. The Blues rank 9th in goals per game at 2.82. They are 7th in power play efficiency and 4th in penalty killing. While goaltending isn’t the only problem, it’s clearly the largest issue. Can the current roster space holders fix it?
I know what you are thinking. Can Elliott be as efficient behind this new and (not) improved Blues team? The muscle of this team is depleted, and it’s a softer bunch of non threatening slick-handed players. Can Moose be as effective as he was in the past? While the past few weeks has been kinder to Elliott in Calgary, he doesn’t rank too far above Allen on the stat sheet. Dicey decisions that I don’t have to make, but can speculate about until the end of time.
Does an Elliott return damage Allen’s mental game even more? No, and here is why. Did you ever care to think that Allen and Elliott leaned on each other to be successful? Did you ever think that Allen could use a legit push in Elliott right now? It may be a shot in the dark, but the younger goaltender may appreciate the backup. The Blues need a shot of something right now, and a couple wins in a row can’t cover four weeks of turd sandwich efforts.
If the Blues brought back Elliott, Hutton would have to go somewhere. Allen’s stock is so low that he wouldn’t get you much right now in a trade. If the Blues really wanted to panic about that contract, they could hold out hope that Las Vegas takes him and makes him their new goalie next year.
Calgary has fallen smitten with Chad Johnson, who is cheaper and more viable option for the forever rebuilding offices of Cal and Gary. They would like to get something for Elliott, because they won’t re-sign a 31 year old expensive time share goaltender in the offseason. The Blues wouldn’t have to hand over much. Possible a Chicago Wolf or Dmitrj Jaskin type. Maybe more. Maybe less.
Once again, this isn’t likely, but Larkin wrote an interesting piece, and I wanted to give my two shakes before zipping up about this topic. Brian Elliott deserved a better exit in St. Louis, and what a story for him to return and play his heart out one more time for the Blues. They need a kick in the ass in net, and it’s not early anymore. Please stop saying it’s early. It’s nearing the end of January, ladies and gents. The “not fucking around” crew has to show up soon or else this season is looking gloomy.
Perhaps Allen turns it on, and the Blues get back on the saddle. Perhaps Elliott returns and raises a middle finger to Doug Armstrong’s suite as he stops 35 in a Saturday route at the office. Maybe Curtis Joseph comes back.
What do you think? Is Larkin nuts? Am I nuts? Should I drink more whiskey and less kool aid?
Thanks for reading if you did.