The St. Louis Blues took a big gamble when they made a blockbuster deal with the Buffalo Sabres to acquire goaltender Ryan Miller near the trade deadline. It didn't pay off and it looks like the Blues will move on from Miller as the club announced that it has re-signed goaltender Brian Elliott. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the deal is worth $7.5 million over three years, signifying the end of Miller's brief time with the club.
With young Jake Allen coming off a season as the American Hockey League's top goaltender with the Chicago Wolves, it is likely his time to make the full-time jump to the NHL. Allen posted a .928 save percentage in 52 AHL regular-season appearances this year and had a solid 15-game run with the Blues last season as the club dealt with goalie injuries.
Elliott offers an experienced veteran that can help ease the transition for Allen, who is undoubtedly the Blues' goalie of the future. Head coach Ken Hitchcock will have some options without having to throw the rookie into too big a role right away.
Elliott has been with the Blues the past three years and has performed well enough to help St. Louis win quite a few games over that span.
This year, the 29-year-old netminder appeared in 31 games, posting an 18-6-2 record, with a .922 save percentage and 1.96 goals-against average.
He was part of the Blues tandem with Jaroslav Halak that won the Jennings Trophy in 2011-12 as well. Elliott set a few single-season franchise records that year with a .940 save percentage, 1.56 goals-against average and nine shutouts.
With Elliott back and Allen coming up, the need for Miller, expected to be the missing piece to the Blues' Stanley Cup puzzle, has significantly dissipated.
For GM Doug Armstrong, the end of the Blues' season has to be bitterly disappointing considering what he sent to Buffalo to acquire Miller.
The Blues dealt forward Chris Stewart, Jaroslav Halak, a first-round pick in 2015 and third-round pick in 2016. In return, they got Steve Ott and 19 regular-season games out of Miller, who went 10-8-1, with a .903 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average.
The club went on a significant slide at the end of the season, which took them out of the top spot in the Central Division and forced a meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Miller posted a paltry .890 save percentage as the Blues were ousted in six games.
In the days after the deal was made and the Blues were surging, Armstrong was vocal about their desire to try to re-sign Miller. When he proved not to be the answer to their postseason woes, it seems that going with Allen's youth is a much safer play in the long-term.
This means Miller will hit unrestricted free agency on July 1, making him one of the top goaltenders available, but it will be interesting to see how this late-season collapse impacts his value. It should some, plus the fact that he'll be 34 next season is going to put some limitations on the market for Miller.
The Blues are making the right decision here, but the buyer's remorse after the Miller trade could last for a very, very long time. Especially if the Blues can't fix their postseason problems quickly.