St. Louis has two quality goaltenders at their disposal, which is considered a blessing in the NHL. Despite the benefits of having two goalies with starting potential, the Blues will have to determine which guy is their number-one and which is their back-up.
Allen is the younger, less experienced of the two options but his skill more than makes up for the lack of games played. The left-catching 25-year-old stands 6’2” and weighs 195 pounds, making him a decent size for an NHL goaltender. To date he’s played in 52 games at the NHL level having gone (15-9-4) in 2012-2013 and (37-22-7) in 2014-2015.
He’s also improving. Not only did he play more games last season than in 2012-13, he also had a better season statistically for the Blues. His goals against average went from 2.46 to 2.33, while his save percentage improved from .905 to .913.
His record as an NHL level goalie is rather impressive, but the biggest concern regarding Allen is his relative lack of experience. He’s yet to play an entire season as a starter and that kind of pressure is immense. On the other hand, his abilities in the crease as well as his two-year, $4.7 million contract make him a good option to go with as the starter to start the new season.
The other option is the 30-year-old Brian Elliott who has 7 years of NHL experience with three different organizations. He began his career with the team that drafted him 291st overall in the 2003 entry draft, the Ottawa Senators. He then played one game in 2007-2008 before becoming a more consistent player over the next three seasons.
The Blues then signed Elliott as a free agent in 2011 to a one-year, $600,000 deal and he’s been in St. Louis ever since. In his four-years with the organization he’s played in 139 games and gone (81-62-10), while his 281 game career record is (142-91-26).
As far as his goals against average Elliott, like Allen, showed improvement last season with an average of 2.26 compared to his career average of 2.45. His save percentage was slightly better than his career average of .912 in 2014-2015 as he posted a .917. Considering that players are getting better and better with each coming season those numbers say a lot about Elliott’s abilities.
Being the more seasoned NHL goalie and the current holder of the Blues’ franchise record in shutouts the Ontario native has a good case for the starting spot.
The Bottom Line
In all honesty the Blues could go in either direction for starting goaltender. They might opt to start the season with the netminder that performs the best in training camp and then just go with the ‘hot’ goalie.
If forced to choose one or the other, though, Allen has proven his ability to handle pressure as well as his immense skill, while Elliott has had ample opportunity to be a starting goalie throughout his career. It seems like it’s Allen’s turn to take the crease.