To make any sort of prediction on goalies is such a hard thing. Some can be slotted into a big role fairly quickly, like Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins for example. While others don't get a real crack at net till their late 20’s. We all know the St. Louis Blues have had some “goalie drama” this season, but their American league affiliate the Chicago Wolves has had it’s share of talking points.
For starters let’s take a look at the puck stoppers at hand. You have the 2011 third round NHL Draft pick Jordan Binnington, Pheonix Copley, and everyone’s new favorite prospect the 2014 fourth round pick Ville Husso.
Like most teams, having multiple goalies on deck is far from ideal when it comes to consistent starts. During the early part of the AHL season it was the combination of Binnington and Copley taking turns in net, while the 22 year old Finn Husso had to be moved down to the ECHL. This was his only option to get any sort of games in, but that all changed in December. After Binnington was given a one game suspension just before Christmas, a true holiday gift was given to Husso, a promotion of sorts. It was at this very moment Binnington went multiple weeks without playing a game. Forced to watch games from the press box. He wasn't being punished, the duo of Copley and Husso just couldn't be touched.
Fast forward a bit to February 10, 2017. It was a home game for the Wolves against the San Antonio Rampage, the Colorado Avalanche’s affiliate. Just 5:09 into the contest Husso looked to have pulled something while making a save, he hasn't returned since then. Though there are reports he’s back to practicing with the team.
The Wolves are currently back to the traditional two man tandem sharing the net and question still remains, who’s next to make the jump to the NHL? More importantly can any of the three hold a backup position because whether Blues fans like it or not, Jake Allen isn't going anywhere.
Stat wise Copely is in the lead, currently ranked ninth in the American league with a .918 SAV% and a 2.37 GAA. He’s played 24 games this season, along with the lone game in the NHL against the Winnipeg Jets and to be honest Copley hasn't looked any better. The Alaska native is finally living up to what I wouldn't call hype but he is proving his worth. At 25, Copley is closer to that age you almost “expect” a goalie to be ready for the big show, if they are ever up to par.
But the other two in this discussion aren't all that far behind Copely, for instance in the smaller sample size of 14 games, Husso has a .917 SAV% with an 2.45 GAA. Binnington sits in third with a .908 SAV% and an 2.90 GAA.
So what does this all mean? Well for the remainder of this season Doug Armstrong and company will have to keep a close eye on how this story concludes this spring. Currently the Wolves sit second in the Central division and are prime to make a deep run in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Both Copley and Binnington are on one year deals, they also both share the fact of being RFA’s. The term for each player is low, actually both are making less than Husso who's entry level deal is $848k per season. The money isn't the important issue here though, what really matters is ensuring all three have plenty of time in net. To learn from their mistakes so the transition to a Blues uniform is an easier one. The future partnership with the Wolves still up in the air but there is one thing we likely won’t see next season, three goalies in the AHL.