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.
Trade him for the cap relief. Since he isn't the guy anymore, he'll do a lot better than he has since Elliott was traded, but the blues money saved if he's gone will help keep 4 or 7.— Alan Myles (@The_Brutch) June 27, 2019
Alan is right on here. Cap relief is a big deal. You can always use it.
Absolutely no reason to keep him other than sentimental ones. The goalie UFAs aren’t great, which means it’s a great year to get our from under an underperforming goalie’s contract. We have only 9 back to backs and a goalie who rebounds well from losses.— WhY cAn’T yOu GeT a DrInK iN sAINt LoUiS (@hoosierblue1) June 27, 2019
Game Time’s own Hoosier Blue has a good point. What’s the true value of a backup?
If there were a better option I’d say trade him. It does not look like there are better options, and he’s a good team player and well liked. Expensive for a backup goalie but what are our other options at this point unless someone makes a good offer for him?— Fabbri’s Hair-Stanley Cup Champions!! (@FabbrisHair) June 27, 2019
Fabbri’s Hair doesn’t have faith in the free agent goalie pool, which is tough but fair.
Haha that’s a bit extreme.— Blues Oracle (@WashedUpTendy) June 27, 2019
“Give me a realistic better option that’s going to give you a significant cap saving this season.”#PrintIt
Trade Allen. Eat a million per year of his deal.— Matt Michaels (@KTGRMatt) June 27, 2019
Sign Binner for 2 years, 2 mm per to make him happy. Promise more if things go well.
Let some expiring paper walk and pay Binner from the savings if it does go well (about 5.5 to 6.0 per)
Still get Binner at a savings to Allen.
My opinion of keeping him being the right move won't change even if he's terrible and Binnington wins the Vezina. Give me the full size spare tire over the donut every time, even if you don't ever get a flat tire.— Walter Sobchak (@Walter_Sobchak0) June 27, 2019
Does Jake need a fresh start, absolutely. Could Jordan benefit from having Jake around even if it ends up being for part of the season, I'd say yes. There's likely still going to be the options of Curtis McElhinney, Keith Kinkaid, etc come November or December if necessary— Patrick Lyons (@PLyons1993) June 27, 2019
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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