The Blues came to terms with a high-ceiling goaltending prospect on Sunday.
The St. Louis Blues announced on Sunday morning that they’ve signed 19-year-old goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick to a three-year, entry-level contract. Fitzpatrick’s deal technically is set to begin at the start of the 2017-18 season, though its start will be delayed for however long he remains at the junior level. Considering his youth and the Blues’ substantial goalie depth, it’s likely that he’ll remain an amateur next season.
Fitzpatrick was the Blues’ second of two second-rounders in the 2016 draft. While the team has a multitude of young goaltenders, it’s very possible that he could position himself as the franchise’s goalie of the future if he continues to progress over the next couple years.
In 49 games for the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL this season, Fitzpatrick has a 16-27-3 record with a 3.46 goals-against average, .899 save percentage and a shutout. Fitzpatrick has never posted impressive numbers during his three seasons with Sherbrooke; nevertheless, the 6-foot-3, 206-pounder was ranked as the top North American goalie in the 2016 NHL Draft class by NHL Central Scouting.
Though they subtracted some excess weight by dealing prospect Pheonix Copley to the Washington Capitals as part of last month’s Kevin Shattenkirk trade, the Blues once again have an extremely deep stable of goaltending depth after agreeing to terms with Fitzpatrick. In addition to Jake Allen and Carter Hutton at the NHL level, the Blues have Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso at the AHL level, 20-year-old Luke Opilka playing with the OHL Kitchener Rangers, and now Fitzpatrick, who will almost surely return to Sherbrooke next season.
It’s possible that the Blues could non-tender Binnington this offseason, as the 23-year-old netminder will be a restricted free agent for the second straight summer. Even if he’s allowed to walk, though, Opilka could turn professional next season, which would mean that the Blues would have at least four professional goalies under contract and another locked up at the junior level.