After taking the team to a Stanley Cup championship, the St. Louis Blues have come to terms with goaltender Jordan Binnington. The club announced that they re-signed the goalie to a two-year, $8.8 million deal.
Binnington was a restricted free agent (RFA) coming off a one-year, $650,000 deal. The new deal allows the player and team to avoid arbitration, which had been set for July 20.
The Richmond Hill, Ontario native broke onto the scene this season with the Blues, getting his first career start on Jan. 7 posting a 25-save shutout. But he didn’t stop there.
The 26-year-old quickly became the team’s number one goalie, playing 32 games down the stretch, going 24-5-1, with a 1.89 goals against average (GAA) and a .927 save percentage (SV%). He helped carry the team from last place in the NHL to the playoffs and eventually to the Stanley Cup.
In 26 playoff games, Binnington went 16-10, with a 2.46 GAA and .914 SV%. Not only did he raise the first Stanley Cup in Blues’ history, but he became the first rookie goalie in NHL history to win all 16 games in a team’s playoff run to the Cup.
What’s most impressive about Binnington’s surprise season is that he was drafted by the Blues 88th overall in the third round back in 2011. Since then he spent most of his time in the AHL, seeming low of the team’s depth chart, including the fourth string at the beginning of training camp this season.
Does Binnington’s Deal Spell the End for Allen?
Binnington will be making $4.4 million for each of the next two seasons. The problem will be former-number one goalie Jake Allen. Allen still has two seasons left on his deal at $4.35 million per year. That leaves the Blues with just over $7 million in cap space with RFA’s Joel Edmundson, Ivan Barbashev, Ville Husso and Oscar Sundqvist still left to re-sign.
While some teams pay their backup goalie well, like the Chicago Blackhawks who recently signed free agent Robin Lehner to a one-year, $5 million deal, the Blues may consider moving Allen to make room for their other RFAs and any other pieces they’d like to bring in.
Last season, Allen played 46 games for the Blues, going 19-17-8 with a 2.83 GAA and a .905 SV%. While he’s overpaid for a backup, there may be some interest in him on the trade market for a team looking for an experienced goaltender and he still could be a number one on another team.
That being said, with Binnington signing a bridge deal that will end at the same time as Allen, it’s possible that the Blues have realized the importance (and unpredictability) of goaltending and will run with both netminders for the two years and then see where they are at.
Contract Extension is a Win-Win for Binnington and Blues
While just two seasons, the contract extension is a good deal for Binnington. It’s hard to remember that the goalie that everyone’s been talking about has just 32 NHL games to his name. It’s not often that a goalie will follow up his rookie season with a $4 million raise.
These two seasons will allow him to prove himself, showing whether or not his historic season was a one-off. If he continues his stellar performance, the end of this deal will see Binnington come out an unrestricted free agent, at which point he could be looking for yet another raise.
If the Binnington of 2018-19 is here to stay, the Blues get a solid goaltender for the next two seasons. And looking at what other goalies got on the market this offseason, it’s a great deal for a number one goalie. Lehner got $5 million to be a backup, the New York Islanders signed Sergei Varlamov to a four-year, $20 million deal, and let’s not forget Sergei Bobrovsky’s seven-year, $70 million deal. And none of these goalies won a Stanley Cup.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.