One of the biggest areas of weakness for the St. Louis Blues last season came from their goaltending. After signing Jordan Binnington to a massive 6-year, $36-million extension, expectations for the budding star were incredibly high.
Unfortunately, Binnington struggled to replicate the promise he once showed, largely in part to onsetting fatigue. After starting 41 games for the Blues this season, wear and tear began to show. The heavy workload, coupled with the mediocre play of backup goaltender Ville Husso (.893 SV%), left the Blues vulnerable within their own crease.
The Blues have made several key moves already during the 2021 offseason, acquiring talent to fill the performance gaps throughout their roster, including trading for forward Pavel Buchnevich. With that said, the Blues will be looking to do the same in terms of their goaltending woes. By finding a serviceable backup for Binnington that can not only take some of the load off of the Richmond Hill native’s shoulders, but one that can also win the club some games in the process. If the Blues can find the right member to join their squad, they will be poised to make another push at a deep playoff run.
While this would be a somewhat ironic turn of events, Devan Dubnyk could provide instant improvement for the Blues. At 35 years old, Dubnyk’s career has hit its crescendo as his overall production has lowered over the past few years. He spent last season splitting time in the crease with Martin Jones for the San Jose Sharks before being dealt to the Colorado Avalanche as a backup for Philipp Grubauer.
This was far from his best season, but Dubnyk provides great value in several ways. By having a veteran presence to both help secure victory on the ice, as well as serve as a great mentor off of it, Dubnyk could provide much-needed value to the current Blues roster. With young netminders Binnington and Husso still coming into their own, he would be a terrific voice in the locker room to help develop the team’s young talent.
It may take some time to get to this point, as Dubnyk and Binnington have some history between them that would need to be settled before this signing. Regardless of wild antics on the ice, Dubnyk is a calm and composed professional, and with his outstanding size and motor, his addition to the Blues could serve as a game-changer.
A player that was once counted out by several key figures from around the league, James Reimer silenced any doubt on his name with his spectacular resurgence the past two seasons. As a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, he was an integral member of their roster, as injuries within their goalie depth chart lead to him shouldering the load for his team.
Sporting a solid 2.66 goals against average (GAA) as well as a .906 SV%, Reimer demonstrated he still has some gas left in the tank. At 33, he’s had an up and down career and ultimately has never been able to hoist the Stanley Cup, with his closest opportunity coming in 2016 with the San Jose Sharks, a postseason in which Reimer would only play a single game, coming in as relief. By adding him to the Blues roster, not only will he be put in a winning situation, but he will be a definite factor in maintaining team success.
With his upswing in momentum in the past two seasons, Reimer would be a fantastic complementary piece for the Blues. With his veteran experience and gamer mentality, he’d fit in well with the Blues organization and could be a terrific addition to their clubhouse.
It may seem like a millennium ago, but Brian Elliott is one of the best goaltenders to ever don a Blues jersey. While his standing within the Blues fanbase, as well as within management, was constantly swaying, there is no arguing the talent and results garnered by Elliott in his tenure with the team.
Elliott came to the Blues in the 2011-12 season and made an immediate impact. With a phenomenal 1.56 GAA as well as nine recorded shutouts, it was clear he was ready for a starting job with his new club. During the five seasons he spent with the Blues, he was a catalyst in the team’s success, giving the Blues life in several playoff runs, including a Western Conference Final appearance in 2016.
He may be far from this version of himself, however, as Elliott’s performance with the Philadelphia Flyers the past four seasons was less than ideal. At 36 years old, the window of opportunity to chase the elusive Stanley Cup is closing, but with the Blues, Elliott might just be the right fit. In his time with the Flyers, Elliott showed glimpses of his past self, playing above his pay grade while attempting to help his team during Carter Hart’s tumultuous slump this past season.
Elliott is ready and able to support a young stud ahead of him while still being able to secure victories for his team. With his seasoned presence and terrific movement in the crease, he could serve as a great fit behind Binnington, all while getting one last chance to bring the Cup home to St. Louis.
All three of these options bring a lot to the table for the Blues’ upcoming 2021-22 season. Whether it’s producing wins on the ice or perpetuating a winning culture off of it, any of the three of these experienced goaltenders would be massive under-the-radar signings for the Blues. Their addition would go a long way in boosting the Blues’ play, but most importantly, it’d help Binnington manage the hefty workload and pressures placed upon him, allowing both him and the Blues to live up to their full potentials.
Originally from Owen Sound, Ontario, Matt Eichhorn has spent the past 4 years studying the field of Sport Media at Ryerson University. Eichhorn is a life-long hockey fan with experience working in a variety of media roles around the game. Currently, Eichhorn covers the St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers.