How do you put a price on a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender with 58 career starts?
The biggest restricted free agent dilemma for the St. Louis Blues this summer was figuring out how much to pay Jordan Binnington, the 25-year-old journeyman goaltender who bolstered the Blues’ Cup run out of nowhere.
When the season started, Binnington was behind Ville Husson and Chad Johnson on the path to overtaking Jake Allen for the #1 spot. There’s fairy tales and then there is a goaltender whose been around for a while hopping over three goaltenders, but it happened, because WE WENT BLUES this summer.
Binnington went 24-5 with a filthy 1.89 goals against average and five shutouts in 30 regular season starts, and then was a solid netminder on the brightest stage with a 2.45 GAA and .914 save percentage. He got beaten up on occasion during the playoffs, but always came back with a vengeance and a shit-eating grin that suggested fans and media took the losses more seriously than he did.
So, what do you pay that? A guy who comes in and dazzles you with the most memorable half season, yet lacks long term NHL experience. The Blues and Binnington put minds to rest with a two-year deal with an average annual value of $4.4 million. The annual total is close to what they currently pay Allen per season, but the two years provides the team with a chance to see what’s truly there.
If Binnington is even close to what he was this past season, the contract is a bargain. If he isn’t and falls back to earth with an 82 game schedule and more importantly, expectations, then the Blues are only in the can for another season after the letdown. Binnington gets to keep his unrestricted free agent years, and the Blues retain peace of mind in a frenzied situation.
Think about it. The Blues could have tried to lock him in for 3-4 seasons, lowered the price, and took a more long term risk. Or Binnington could have stiffed their offers, and took the whole ordeal to arbitration, which would have been weird. As I told the gents over at STL Sports Central, that would be like meeting the woman of your dreams and then taking her to court over future values. Yikes. I’m glad the two parties avoided that.
Yes, it’d be nice if the Blues could move Allen and not pay two goaltenders $9 million plus, but it’s not a terrible situation. Hopefully Allen shows enough in a reserve role to make himself a fine trade piece, and another veteran backup can be acquired or Husso is ready to step and collect some starts.
One thing I do know is that you don’t fuck with a winning streak, and in this case you keep Binnington happy. Without him, the Blues don’t make it to the Cup Finals. Just cancel it. He was a huge piece of the puzzle, and if you overpaid on the AAV for a lower term, so be it.
Best case, Binnington becomes a king in this town and adds to his GLORIA-fied resume. Worst case, he’s a bust or just ordinary, and the Blues can pull the eject button after two seasons.
I think he’s going to be good, if not pretty good. Call it a gut feeling, something telling me those icy veins aren’t thawing out anytime soon.
Now, there’s a few more players to figure out and that Pat Maroon fella. Training camp seems like it’s right around the corner. Before you know it, hockey games will take place in downtown St. Louis once again.
I know who will be in between the pipes. His name is Jordan and he’s bad, bad man ... and RICH!