Goaltender Jake Allen could be on the trade block in the offseason.
The Blues have two highly capable, reliable goaltenders as they approach the playoffs. That may not be for much longer.
Jordan Binnington came out seemingly nowhere to lead the Blues to their first-ever championship. He cemented himself as the Blues’ number 1 goalie, unseating Jake Allen. Now Allen has been invaluable as a backup and coach for Binnington, but he makes a lot of money. He’s paid like a No. 1 is paid, but in the salary cap world we live in, it’s not sustainable to pay 2 goalies number 1-type money.
The Blues are paying Binnington and Allen a combined $8.75 million through the 2020-2021 season. That’s more than 10 percent of the salary cap.
Tom Stillman and the Blues ownership group has blessed us fans by spending to/near the salary cap each year. That has enabled Doug Armstrong to keep the team very competitive from year to year. But the salary cap limits all teams, and because of that limitation, it is inevitable that teams lose players they really, really like, in order to keep players they love.
The number one question the Blues have to answer is: Can they re-sign Captain Alex Pietrangelo? If you look at Cap Friendly, the Blues have a projected cap hit next season of just under $80 million. The cap itself is slated to be around $81.5 million. So that leaves the team less than $2 million in wiggle room.
That’s not enough to re-sign Pietrangelo to even a “discount” contract. Pietrangelo is making currently $6.5 million per season. And that’s not enough to cover the raises due Vince Dunn and Jacob De La Rose, both restricted free agents.
So logically, GM Doug Armstrong needs to move out salary, and a prime candidate is the expensive (though valued) backup goalie.
One potential match is the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury is their number one, but their backup Robin Lehner is scheduled to reach free agency. Should he seek a number one job with another team, there would be a backup opening in Sin City.
Or Jake Allen could be packaged in a larger deal for scoring depth. The Blues were in the mix to acquire a winger before COVID shut down the league.Embed from Getty Images
Another factor is goalie prospect Ville Husso (above). He is developmentally close to ready for a backup role in the NHL. The Blues will need to promote him soon to move the pipeline along. Husso has played well in training camps and at the AHL level. The Hockey Writers has a very good piece about Husso here. They point out that Husso has a one-way contract in place next season, and that makes it all the more expedient for him to be on the roster and backing up Binnington.
In fact, a trade of Allen might mean Doug Armstrong need not move out anyone else to make cap room for Pietrangelo. It will be very interesting how this plays out. The salary cap has made offseasons so much more interesting.