When it was announced on Friday night during the first round of the NHL Draft that the Flames had acquired a goaltender, the news did not come as a surprise to many in the hockey world. The goalie they acquired was a bit more surprising, considering the others they have been linked to this week. The Flames traded their second-round pick, 35th overall, and a conditional future pick to the Blues for goalie Brian Elliott.
The goaltending situation in St. Louis was not ideal for either Elliott or young goalie Jake Allen, which led to Elliott secretly requesting a trade after the season. It has seemed that the Blues have been stuck in a goalie rotation with at least two goalies for the better part of the last five years, Jaroslav Halak included. Now both the Blues and Flames have clear-cut number one goalies.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) June 25, 2016
What It Means for Elliott and the Flames
The Flames are a talented and developing team that could be a good goaltender away from contending for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Now they have their man in Elliott. When you consider the rotation that Calgary rolled out last season, Elliott immediately makes them a better team.
We have seen for years the flashes of being a top-tier goalie from Elliott. He was always mired in a goalie tandem unfortunately and was never able to truly take control of the net in St. Louis. We all remember the season that Halak and Elliott had in 2011-12 when both posted GAA blew 1.97 and combined for 15 shutouts. Nine of Elliott’s 23 wins that year came from shutouts.
He continued to put up great numbers this year. After a slow start to the season Elliott got going after an injury to Allen. He rarely ceded the net the rest of the season, on his way to a league-leading .930 SV% and finishing in a tie with John Gibson for second with a 2.07 GAA.
Since that 2011-12 season, his first with the Blues, Elliott has posted the best GAA in the league with a 2.01 mark among goaltenders with a minimum of 150 starts. The next closest goalie is Cory Schneider’s 2.12. Elliott’s .925 SV% is second to Schneider in that time, and his 25 shutouts are second to Jonathan Quick’s 28. But because of his time share status Elliott has started the 27th-most games on that list, out of 28 qualifying netminders.
Best Save Percentage since start of 2011-12 season
1. Cory Schneider .926
2. #Flames Brian Elliott .925
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 25, 2016
That is where we get into the uncertain part of Elliott’s game, his durability. He does not have the wear and tear of a normal 31-year-old starter who has been in the league for nine seasons. That is a good thing. However he has never started more than 48 games in a season and his high for appearances is 55, which was set eight years ago.
With the young offensive core that the Flames have and the stable of talented defensemen signed to long-term deals Elliott could be a top goaltender next season. His career numbers with the Blues were 104-46-16 with a 2.01 GAA, .925 SV% and 25 shutouts. With one year and $2.5 million left on his deal, those numbers make him look like a bargain.
Even if his numbers regress slightly because of the team and the increased workload Elliott is still a top-15 goaltender. Had he stayed with the Blues and were the starter there he would be a top-10 goalie going into next season. He gets knocked a little bit for going to a younger team that is not as experienced as the Blues were but he should still be a very solid option for fantasy owners.
What It Means for Jake Allen and the Blues
The Blues have now gone all-in on Allen as their starter going forward. Both Allen and Elliott had one year left on their deals, with Allen being an RFA after next season.
Armstrong said he will start negotiations with Jake Allen to sign him long term. "He's the goalie of today and of the future." #stlblues
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) June 25, 2016
Allen has shown the same flashes of being a franchise goaltender that Elliott has, and like Elliott has struggled at times. He started this season strong for the Blues posting months of .929 and .930 SV% in October and November respectively. He looked well on his way to taking control of the St. Louis net while having a fantastic 2.02 GAA. He even had a strong December with a .922 SV% and a 2.14 GAA.
However things took a downturn for Allen when he was hurt in early January, missed six weeks of action, and posted sub-.900 SV% in his seven starts between January and February. He would start 10 games down the stretch for the Blues in March and April, but the net was Elliott’s going into the playoffs. Allen saw limited action in relief of Elliott in the playoffs and went 1-1 in two starts in the Sharks series.
Ultimately the young netminder finished the season with a 26-15-3 record and very solid 2.35 GAA and .920 SV% in 47 games (44 starts).
The positives with Allen are that he is six years younger than Elliott, he has won a lot at such a young point in his career and his numbers have progressively gotten better in his two-plus seasons in the league. He is also slightly less money than Elliott at the moment and under control as an RFA at the end of next year. He will get a new deal before that and should pay him handsomely.
With the clear crease in St. Louis now Allen’s fantasy stock will get a bump. However the rumored potential of the Blues trading top defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could hurt the defense in front of him should those rumors come to fruition. He was easily a top-20 goalie going into next season, and with the time share gone gets a bump into the top-15. We will have to see the make up of the team in front of him going forward, but he should start the season regardless right around the 15th ranked goalie in fantasy leagues.