By: Adam Gretz
The St. Louis Blues signing of Brian Elliott this offseason wasn't the most exciting acquisition of the summer. A reclamation project that was brought in on a one-year deal worth a $600,000 cap hit, nobody could have possibly expected that at the NHL's halfway point he would be one of the league's best goaltenders this season and headed to the All-Star game.
On Wednesday, the Blues decided to reward his stellar play this season (while also keeping him from hitting the unrestricted free agent market this upcoming summer) by signing him to a two-year contract extension that is reportedly worth $1.8 million per season.
“Brian came in here and helped stabilize our goaltending and make it one of the top tandems in the NHL,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong in a team-released statement. “Having Brian and Jaro (Jaroslav Halak) signed through the '13-14 season our goaltending is set. Along with Ben Bishop and Jake Allen in Peoria, our depth at goaltender has never been stronger.”
It's not a bad price for Elliott as far as the Blues concerned, as a $1.8 million cap hit would be in a tie for 30th in the league among goalies, and it is a nice raise, not to mention some stability, for Elliott, a player that has now played for three different teams (Ottawa, Colorado and St. Louis) since the start of last season.
The Blues have been one of the toughest teams in the league to score against this season, not only due to the play of Elliott and Halak, but also because they're a team that limits opponents shots on goal better than any other team in the league. The goalies have probably definitely been the beneficiaries of that strong defensive play, as well as the influence of new head coach Ken Hitchcock who took over early in the season for Davis Payne.
In 22 appearances this season Elliott currently ranks second in the NHL in goals against average with a 1.68 mark, and third with a .937 save percentage. Being realistic about it, you have to imagine that eventually those numbers are going to come back down to earth a little bit, as Elliott has never demonstrated an ability to play at this high of a level on a consistent basis. But again, it's not like the Blues spent a fortune to keep him around.
Between he and Halak St. Louis has $5.5 million in cap space tied up in its goalies over the next two seasons.
It also has to be disappointing news for teams that were going to be in the market for a goaltender in free agency after this season as this signing crosses another name off of what was already a relatively short (and uninspiring) list.
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