While many in St. Louis look at the St. Louis goaltending situation and immediately wonder why backup Carter Hutton isn’t getting even more time in the net while starter Jake Allen is struggling, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford (subscription required) writes that there is no reason to consider moving Allen or even suggesting that Hutton is the answer in net for St. Louis.
In a mailbag, Rutherford covers multiple topics, but is quick to point out that the team could consider moving Allen for a valuable winger to add to the team’s offense, but that would only create other problems next season. While there might be some merit to adding a top-six winger such as Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman for Allen, Hutton has not proven he can be a starting goaltender, nor has he proven he should be a tandem goaltender just yet. Sure, the 32-year-old Hutton is having a great season as he has a 1.84 GAA and an impressive .940 save percentage in 16 appearances, but can he continue to play at that level with an increased role? On top of that, Hutton will be an unrestricted free agent next season, meaning the Blues would either have to lock Hutton up the moment they trade Allen or they could spend less than half a season to observe Hutton, but take a chance they might get outbid for his services. And what if Hutton’s not the guy? The team would be out a netminder next season.
Rutherford also argues that the 27-year-old Allen has been quite successful in his career for St. Louis. While he currently has weak numbers this year with a 2.75 GAA and a .908 save percentage, he still boasts a career 108-60-14 career record. While his save percentage numbers have historically dropped as the season wears on, Allen has always been solid in the playoffs, boasting a .922 career save percentage and even had a .935 save percentage in the playoffs last year. Giving up on him is probably not the way to go.
- Among many topics he weighs in on, Rutherford also notes that it is highly unlikely that general manager Doug Armstrong promised prospect Klim Kostin an opportunity to get called up if he performed well at the World Junior Championships, like Kostin claims. He doubts Armstrong would make a promise like that to anyone and considering that Kostin has no points in his last three games since returning from the WJC and he has two points in his last 12 games with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, it would seem even more unlikely that Kostin will get recalled soon. Kostin has even found himself on the Rampage’s fourth line lately, suggesting he’s still struggling to adjust to the North American game.
- While Rutherford admits that the team is looking for wing help, he writes that it’s unlikely the team would move one of their four top prospects, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Tage Thompson or Kostin to make that happen. One reason would be that if the team wanted to make a pitch for Hoffman or Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, they would also have to unload salary to make the deal work. Moving a top prospect and salaried players such as defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, plus another player would be too much. However, the scribe notes that if the right deal came along, the team could move one of them as they’d still have three top prospects remaining in their system.