If the St. Louis Blues are looking to contend this season, the organization cannot afford to move on from Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Binnington, or Ville Husso. The NHL playoffs are a different animal that requires endurance and depth at each and every position. The organization is in a prime position to make a deep playoff run and even contend against the best in the league for a shot at a second Stanley Cup. The compliment of veterans and ‘young guns’ actively playing on the roster has provided the organization with a window to strike and win once more.
For the better part of the season, Jordan Binnington has gone through a rough patch. From Nov. 1, 2021, until Jan. 31, 2022, among goaltenders that appeared in at least 10 games, his 6-8-3 record was tied for 36th in the NHL and his .892 save percentage (SV%) was 50th. Needless to say, things were not looking good for the Blues starting goaltender. What made matters worse was the realization that his six-year, $36 million contract officially started this season and has until the 2024-25 season until his full no-trade clause reduces to a modified no-trade clause.
Since Feb. 1, Binnington has a record of 2-1-0 in his three starts. His .928 SV% ranks 12th in that timeframe, while his 2.01 goals-against average (GAA) rank sixth. Though the sample size is small, it would appear that he is turning things around and regaining some of the confidence that helped provide the team with steady goaltending throughout the playoffs in the past. The club should continue pouring their resources into him to help regain his confidence and show that he is a goaltender worthy of their investment.
Of the same criteria and timeframe applied to Binnington earlier on, Husso’s 8-3-1 record was tied for 28th, and his .936 SV% ranked first in the NHL. The Finnish goaltender has shown all the signs that he could be ready to take on a full-time workload should the organization need to rely upon him down the stretch.
Related: Blues’ Ville Husso Making Case to Be Starting Netminder
With a 2.03 GAA and .935 SV%, statistically speaking, Husso has blown his goaltending counterpart out of the water this season. The Blues should have little reason to believe that he cannot find success in the NHL. However, will his success be found in St. Louis or elsewhere? The goaltender has already proven that he can be successful elsewhere as he was a U20 SM-liiga Champion during the 2011-12 season while also earning U18 WJC Bronze Medal, U20 WJC Gold Medal, and SM-liiga Best Goaltender (Urpo Ylönen Award) accolades all before coming to the United States for the 2016-17 season.
|Year||Team||League||Games Played||Goals Against Average||Save Percentage||Record|
|2017-18||San Antonio Rampage||AHL||38||2.42||0.922||15-14-5|
|2018-19||San Antonio Rampage||AHL||27||3.67||0.871||6-17-1|
|2019-20||San Antonio Rampage||AHL||42||2.56||0.909||16-17-12|
|2020-21||St. Louis Blues||NHL||17||3.21||0.893||9-6-1|
|2021-22||St. Louis Blues||NHL||20||2.03||0.935||13-3-2|
If history can be used as a tool to help predict the future, the Blues may have themselves something of extreme value when it comes to Husso. Before Binnington’s rise to the NHL, he was projected to be the goaltender of the future for the organization. The front office needs to determine if he will be worth keeping or risk losing him for nothing if they are unable to sign him to a contract extension. To make a push this year, they would be wise to keep him around and take the gamble associated with it.
For nearly nine months, a dark cloud has hung over Tarasenko and the Blues organization when the prolific sniper requested a trade from the organization he has called home since 2012. Since April of 2018, he has undergone multiple shoulder surgeries that he felt had been mishandled and caused him to miss over 80 games. While reports loomed over the team heading into the season indicating he and the organization have seemingly moved on, he has rebounded this season with some of the best hockey he has played over the last five campaigns.
If the team were interested in making a move, the time could not be better as Tarasenko’s trade value is as high as ever. It appears that his current shooting percentage of 12.9 percent is returning to form, as it is his highest since 2016-17 when he scored 39 goals and 75 points over 82 games. This season, he has found a new home and chemistry with Robert Thomas and fellow Russians Pavel Buchnevich and Ivan Barbashev. Of his 19 goals, Thomas has assisted on 10, Buchnevich on nine, and Barbashev on seven.
Without significant value and compensation returned, the Blues will be hard-pressed to find success this season and in the playoffs without either of these three players. The chemistry and trust built around this team would be difficult to ruffle, and moving on from any of these three individuals could cause a disruption in team chemistry. If the organization were to make a transaction, it would be a tough pill to swallow if it were Tarasenko, Husso, or Binnington heading out before the trade deadline.