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Roundtable: Should the Blues trade Jake Allen?

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Stand back and watch it burn...

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

To trade Jake Allen or keep him?

That is the most polarizing question in St. Louis Blues hockey land at the moment, and one that causes fire. If you say trade him, people breathe more fire at you than one of those dragons on Game of Thrones. If you say keep him, watch for an elbow in your ribs. With $17.2 million in cap space heading into the summer, Doug Armstrong thankfully has more restricted free agents than unrestricted to deal with, but you can never have too much extra cash lying around.

Instead of assembling a panel of fellow writers, I put the question out on Twitter so the voice of the fan could get involved here. The responses came fast and furious. Nothing gets people talking more than a longtime beleaguered backup goaltender in St. Louis.

First, my take: I’d find a way to trade Allen, but only if the other team takes on the entire salary, which would be around $8.7 million. A fresh start could do him well, and with the thin free agent market for STARTING goaltenders, Allen could be the unusual diamond in this year’s class.

While the Blues can keep most of their restricted free agents, I’d like to keep some loose cash in case an upgrade on defense or there’s a chance to keep a guy like Pat Maroon around, who got better as last season went on. He really formed a great alliance with Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak, and will probably want to stick around. If the Blues can keep him under $2.5-3 million, you pull the trigger. That would be double the low salary he took over other teams to come here, so saving on a backup goalie could help.

I think Jordan Binnington is ready to take over the #1 mantle. He’s not a young kid anymore, and just bolstered a successful Stanley Cup run. While handing him a ridiculous long term contract isn’t wise, securing his future and status in a meaningful way is. It wasn’t just the physical resolve he showed in net. Check out the poise. The mentality to bounce back from defeat. That teaches you more than a sprawled out save, and Binnington had a few of those. Without him, the Blues don’t even dream of a second round, much less playoff entry.

Allen would make for a suitable backup, but at $4.3 million looks rather steep. He’d play 18-20 games a year, and I think you can find that for less money. I don’t want Chad Johnson 2.0, but a guy like Keith Kinkaid out of New Jersey purgatory or Curtis McElhinney is intriguing. Both are UFA and make less than $2 million. We are talking about a backup.

Don’t sleep on Ville Husso. Binnington may have passed up the young tender in a storybook season, but he’s got chops and will need to be used eventually. Injuries limited Husso this past season, but he could bounce back. Evan Fitzpatrick also exists on the Blues depth chart. Asking one of these men to step in during the 2019-2020 for a substantial role may not be wise, but in a year, you’ll have to see what you have there in at least Husso.

Allen was a great teammate this season, giving up pride and helping teammates improve off the ice. He was selfless, and should be moved if a team is willing to take on his entire contract. If another team won’t take on the entire contract, the Blues could keep him and try to deal him closer to the deadline in 2020.

Now, let’s go to Blues Twitter. I picked out seven (get it, Allen’s jersey number combined) for their takes on Allen. Here we go.

Alan is right on here. Cap relief is a big deal. You can always use it.

Game Time’s own Hoosier Blue has a good point. What’s the true value of a backup?

Fabbri’s Hair doesn’t have faith in the free agent goalie pool, which is tough but fair.

There you have it, ladies and gents. A thorough Jake Allen discussion. Where else will you find so many words about a career 1B goaltender? Right here, you will!

If I was betting money, I’d say Blues keep Allen until February, unless someone presents them with a sweet offer. Honestly, a part of me gets the need to hold onto him in case Jon Casey crawls out of Binnington’s skin in the first week of the season.

Welcome to the Blues offseason discussion. There may be a Stanley Cup in town now, but that won’t slow down the passion of roster talk.

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