A day after signing Carter Hutton to serve as Jake Allen’s new backup, the St. Louis Blues shed some excess goaltending depth.
After the St. Louis Blues gave veteran netminder Carter Hutton a two-year contract on Friday, making him Jake Allen’s new backup, it was hard to see where Anders Nilsson fit into the picture. Nilsson, who served as the third-stringer behind Allen and Brian Elliott for much of the stretch run this spring, was tendered a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent earlier this week, but it was unlikely that the Blues were going to keep him around as a third-stringer for 2016-17 or give him a one-way contract and then send him to the AHL. The Blues solved that issue on Saturday, trading Nilsson to the Buffalo Sabres for a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Nilsson departs the Blues organization after making just three appearances, all in relief, with the club. Over 88 minutes with the Blues, he had a .909 save percentage and 2.76 goals-against average. His most impressive performance with the Blues came on April 3, when he relieved an injured Allen at Colorado and stopped 19 of 20 shots over two periods.
Essentially, over a four-month period of time, the Blues ended up getting the Edmonton Oilers to take the contract of prospect Niklas Lundstrom off their hands (as well as gaining the depth that Nilsson provided for several months at the NHL level). The Blues swapped Lundstrom and a 2016 fifth-rounder for Nilsson on February 27, and now they’ve gotten a fifth-rounder back, albeit a year later.
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With Hutton entering the picture, it was difficult to see how Nilsson was going to be worked into the Blues’ plans at any level. Jordan Binnington and Pheonix Copley, both of whom are restricted free agents but were tendered qualifying offers for 2016-17, are expected to return as the goaltending tandem at AHL Chicago, and after both made their NHL debuts last season, they’ll be ready to serve as depth options. In addition, the Blues signed Finnish prospect Ville Husso, and he’s expected to get his feet wet in the ECHL next season.
Now Nilsson will get an opportunity to serve as the primary backup to Robin Lehner in Buffalo, and at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, he’ll be a a good fill-in for the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lehner. Buffalo has 24-year-old Jason Kasdorf, who made his NHL debut with a singular appearance last season, but they lost their previous backup, Chad Johnson, when he signed with the Calgary Flames on Friday.