The Ice Zone at the St. Louis Outlet Mall, the St. Louis Blues practice facility, features a ring of players’ names and numbers who have donned the Bluenote and have since entered the Hockey Hall of Fame. The ice rink will have to make room for one more.
Martin Brodeur, the only man to record over 600 wins at the NHL level, signed a one-year, incentive-based, $700,000 contract on Tuesday. The future Hall of Famer is just 12 wins away from 700 and is entering his 22nd NHL season.
Brodeur joined the Blues in practice last Friday morning, after starter Brian Elliott left the previous game (Tuesday) with a lower-body injury. Originally, AHL goaltender Jordan Binnington was called up on an emergency basis, backing up Jake Allen in Friday’s and Saturday’s victories. Elliott was moved to injured reserve last Wednesday when he was deemed “week-to-week” by head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Brodeur, 42, adds experience and leadership to the Blues’ goaltending depth chart. He is the most decorated netminder in League history and has the potential to be a powerhouse behind the St. Louis team’s top defense.
However, the St. Louis fan base has found itself asking the same question: what happens when Elliott returns?
Carrying three goaltenders on an NHL roster is not an ideal situation, so one of the pieces has to fall. The St. Louis management team and coaching staff will have to play through these scenarios until Elliott’s return to the ice, which does not currently have a timetable.
Blues trade Allen or Elliott
This is a scenario that the Blues internet forums love to play out.
If Brodeur shines, and Hitchcock shows confidence in giving him starts, this trade speculation could grow into reality. There are teams that are likely seeking a goaltender, such as the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers.
Unless the return is something that the Blues simply cannot pass up, it is highly unlikely that the goalie traded would be the 24-year-old Allen, who has been touted as the goaltender of the future since he was drafted in 2008. In many trade scenarios, Allen would be the best player in the deal.
Elliott, 29, would be the more expendable piece if either of the netminders were moved. He has a cap-friendly contract (three years, $7.50 million), and has posted extremely impressive numbers during his tenure with the Blues (1.86 GAA, .927 save percentage and 17 shutouts in 107 games).
However, moving either goaltender, who have been a bright spot throughout the entire season, would mean a near lights-out showing from Brodeur every time he appeared between the pipes.
Blues cut Brodeur Loose
Brodeur’s career is not finished. Yet, he’s not ready to team hop as many players do at the end of their careers.
That doesn’t mean that the legendary goaltender won’t accept a better personal situation, though. Helping a team win its first Stanley Cup championship is a dream, but the veteran could be just as happy being a playoff-bound team’s undisputed starter. With Allen and Elliott expectedly staying put, Brodeur could be fighting for starts. If he were dealt to a potential playoff team that is struggling in net (Dallas, Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals to name a few), he may accept the challenge and pack up one more time.
In the condition that the Blues decide that Allen and Elliott are the answer, the organization could opt to waive Brodeur. Although this would potentially damage a prosperous relationship with the team’s newest backstop, it would open the possibility that another team could claim Brodeur, leaving the franchise off the hook for paying his remaining base salary. If he goes unclaimed, he would be expected to report to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL and the Blues would continue to pay his NHL salary.