The St. Louis Blues announced on Monday morning that they had re-signed goaltender Brian Elliott to a three-year, $7.5-million dollar deal. Since the Blues have already announced that 23-year-old Jake Allen will be part of the NHL roster next season, this means that Ryan Miller, who the Blues traded for this past February in hopes that he could push them over the edge as a Stanley Cup contender, will not return.
Seeing as general manager Doug Armstrong had previously said that the club’s second goalie would be battling for time with Allen during 2014-15, Elliott is the perfect man for the job. A three-season veteran of the Blues, the 29-year-old Elliott is very reliable, having gone 55-24-7 during his stint with the club. He was actually the best of the three goaltenders the Blues used in 2013-14, going 18-6-2 with a 1.96 goals against average and .922 save percentage. By all accounts, he’s a good guy and good teammate who will not pitch a fit about losing playing time to Allen.
While Miller’s status as an Olympian and a former playoff goalie was intriguing, he really underperformed, and it’s probably for the best that he’s not returning. After winning his first eight regulation contests, he gave up at least three goals in nine of his final 11 games and took the loss in six of his last seven. There weren’t any games that he stole for the Blues in the playoffs, as he gave up at least three goals in five of the six games against the Chicago Blackhawks. If anything, he put them in even greater of a hole by struggling mightily in Games 4 and 6.
It didn’t help that Miller didn’t create a great impression on the fans or media, either. By the middle of the Blues’ series against the Blackhawks, there was hope among large chunks of fans on social media that Miller would not be re-signed. That coupled with rumors that he was asking for money close to his expiring salary of $6.25 million per year made it unlikely that he would return.
With Elliott back in the fold, look for him and Allen to form the goaltending tandem over the next few years. If all goes to plan, they should have more of a timeshare to start the 2014-15 season, but the expectation would be that Allen will slowly earn time and become the primary option. Since Allen is completely untested in the postseason, while Elliott has not done much to establish himself as a reliable playoff goalie, it should be interesting to see which one steps forward and becomes the starter should the Blues return to the postseason next year.