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If Miller returns to Blues, he’ll have to beat out Allen

Apr 29, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

To hear Doug Armstrong explain it, the Blues’ starting goalie next season might be a guy that didn’t play a single minute this year.

Jake Allen, the 23-year-old prospect who played exclusively in AHL Chicago this season, will be one of the two goalies St. Louis carries next season — and apparently has a legit shot at being the No. 1.

“Jake Allen’s partner is going to have to hold Jake Allen out,” Armstrong said, per the Belleville News-Democrat. “He’s earned the right — he will be one of the two. Who his partner will be will be discussed at the appropriate time, and that will be over the next few weeks.”

In-house options for Allen’s partner are Ryan Miller and Brian Elliott, both pending UFAs. Here’s what Armstrong said about the possibility of re-signing Miller, his big acquisition at the trade deadline:

Armstrong’s right in that Miller does have opportunities. The Capitals and Islanders don’t have a bonafide No. 1 goalie; Pittsburgh is one Marc-Andre Fleury meltdown away from looking for another option in net and, if Miller wants to be in California as speculation has suggested, San Jose now has questions in goal after Antti Niemi was parked in Game 6 in favor of Alex Stalock.

It’ll be curious to hear if Armstrong’s comments will affect Miller’s decision to stay in St. Louis. It’s no secret the organization is very high on Allen — he was the 34th overall pick in 2008, made the NHL’s All-Rookie team in 2013 and captured the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award this year as the American League’s top goalie — but he has a pretty small NHL resume, consisting of exactly 15 games.

Are the Blues, a team built to win now, really willing to hand the goalie reins to such an inexperienced guy? Or are Armstrong’s comments just posturing, trying to show Miller the Blues aren’t totally dependent on his return?

  1. comeonnowguys - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Are the people who were trumpeting his arrival throwing Ryan Miller now under the bus? In both cases, it feels like an overreaction.

  2. esracerx46 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Wait, If you’re already giving the starting goalie job for next year to Jake Allen. To me that means you think Jake Allen is better. Which begs the question, Why was Miller starting if you thought Allen was better? Surely 5 months can’t make that much of a difference.

    • 19to77 - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      The STL management is hugely overreacting to a bad loss. They’re practically running Miller out the door simply because he didn’t carry the team to the Cup on his back. “Perfect or bust” is a terrible way to evaluate players, and they’ll regret stupid comments like this in a month or so when they’ve calmed down. But this may have cost them any chance at signing Miller, leaving them starting a rookie in net next year. Good luck on the next Cup run, Armstrong. I’m sure it’ll go real well.

      • paperlions - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        I think the comments are presented as more inflammatory than they are. Anything he is saying is just true, not a reaction to one loss. Miller was not impressive at all during his stay in StL, not just for one game, for the entire time. He’s fine, but he wasn’t any better than Halak or Elliot have been over the last 2 years. It isn’t even that he didn’t carry the team, he never carried the team, not one game…and he let in a lot of soft goals. I didn’t see a guy whose value matches the contract he’ll be looking for.

  3. jernster21 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    If he was considering staying in St. Louis, he isn’t anymore after reading this.

  4. Sean J - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Clearly the Blues see Allen as the goaltender of the future, and with a 1-way contract he’ll be in St. Louis next season. I don’t believe it’s about thinking Allen is *better* but I don’t see the Blues paying a guy like Miller big bucks when Allen is either ready or will be in a year’s time.

    They’re in an interesting spot with Allen. It might be most cost-effective to go ahead and give him those reigns, let him take over. Every great goaltender had a first “#1” job at some point.

  5. meldboy - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    There is a zero percent chance that Miller is resigned by St. Loius. The 2016 conditional 3rd round draft pick that was apart of the trade turns into a #1 if either A) the Blues reached the Western Conference finals this year or B) The Blues resign Miller.

    • cantescapekarma - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:54 PM

      There is more to the trade than that. If St. Louis resigns Miller before their first round selection in the 2014 draft or trade his rights (before their 1st round pick), then Buffalo gets the 2014 1st and St. Louis gets Buffalo’s 2014 3rd round pick along with an additional 2014 2nd round pick that Buffalo holds (from Minnesota). If St. Louis resigns Miller after their 1st round pick in the 2014 draft (or trade his rights after their 1st pick) then it becomes a 2nd round pick in 2016 from St. Louis and no pick in return from Buffalo. If none of that happens, it is a 3rd round pick in 2016 from St. Louis and again no pick in return from Buffalo.
      The only reason I know all of this is because I am a Buffalo fan, so I don’t fault you for not knowing every detail…lol.
      Armstrong said that Murray was very creative in order to get the trade done that day. Now you can see what he meant…
      So, even though I don’t really know if St. Louis will be interested in signing Miller after his end of the year performance, since they would get a second and third round pick from Buffalo if they sign Miller before the draft, I don’t see that 1st round pick as a deciding factor.

  6. pdmjr - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Miller is the most overrated goalkeeper in sports. Bobrovsky is right behind

    • rjmisles1980 - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      He may be overrated, but as a NY Islander fan, I would love to have him. I doubt that the feeling is mutual however

  7. jpat2424 - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Blues are screwed

  8. feedmetherock - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Think the Ben Bishop effect is playing a part in this? They gave up Bishop and basically got very little in return, relative to how Bishop played this year (arguably a top 3 goalie in the league). Probably don’t want to miss on Allen and have him become a stud elsewhere either. Kid is probably ready. Looked good in limited action the year before, and this year was the AHL goalie of the year. Plus St. Louis plays a really solid two-way game, so he won’t be left out on an island to save the team.

    • esracerx46 - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      Ben Bishop has nothing to do with this. With the last year and a half the exception he hasn’t done much stellar in his career. Bishop, as far as I’m concerned is still somewhat an unproven commodity. When he was traded to Ottawa, he was 25 and had 13 games in the NHL. A 25 yr old that hasn’t done much in the AHL who’s best gaa prior to that was 2.55 isn’t going to get you a ton. If he was 21, you might have a point. Also, at the time of the trade St Louis was riding Brian Elliot who was lights out. It seems that any goalie that has been in for the Blues has been more than adequate. Which begs the question if its a scheme/team thing. To have 5 goalies be somewhat successful in a 2 and a half year span…. Also, STL had Halak and Jake Allen. 4 good goalies, someone had to go. And at the time Bishop didn’t look like the all world goalie he is now. This has nothing to do with the Bishop trade

      • feedmetherock - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:17 PM

        Ben Bishop was considered one of the hotter goalie prospects at the time of his trade. He might not have done anything right away, but he lit it up this year. Think St. Louis wants to gamble of losing Allen and have another hot goalie prospect become good on someone else’s team? Probably not.

      • stevedurbano - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:23 PM

        Bishop was dealt because the Halak-Elliott axis was supposed to rule the world for the next 10 years. Didn’t work out that way, and it amazes me that the Blues management hasn’t been taken to task more often for this incredibly stupid move.

  9. djshnooks - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Miller was not impressive in one game?

    Did you miss the triple-overtime where he stood on his head multiple times and single-handedly kept them in the game?

    I get the guy didn’t live up to expectations, but he is, without a doubt, one of the best goalies in the league. Did his team convert any power play opportunities? They’re captain was out, etc…it was far from all Ryan Miller’s fault. Not to mention…he had a rough season to begin with in Buffalo, facing a ton of shots and stress from all the drama, including the Olympics and trade.

    He will win a cup…give him some time to recover, and let him have a full season with an elite team…and I guarantee a cup.

    I watched him his entire career, from college through the AHL and every single game he ever played for the Sabres…he is a one-of-a-kind talent. Let him play his game, where he wants in his crease…give him a full year, and just let him do his thing.

    He will win you a cup. I promise.

    • stevedurbano - Apr 30, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      Hey, average goalies can win with an elite team. I don’t think he meshed with the Blues and didn’t really see this as anything to a springboard to a California team. St Louis has always been problematic for non-baseball athletes. After one win by the Blues in February (don’t remember which one) the lead sports story in the Post Disgrace was “Who will the Cardinals back-up second baseman be?”. The odd non-baseball celebrity does happen (Warner, Hull, Bruce) but they are few and far between. Right after the trade I posted this-

      “The biggest concern is that they MUST – 1. Win it all this year or 2. Sign Miller. If they don’t this will be a heavy price to rent a goalie for a few months. It concerns me that they apparently tried and failed to sign him during the trade negotiations. St Louis has a core of rabid fans but ultimately its a baseball town and that can cause problems for some guys. Still, he could have vetoed the trade so that’s a good sign. Above all I’m glad they didn’t trade Allen.”

      And I emailed this to a fellow Blues fan-

      “What I didn’t say was that everything I heard about Miller during the Olympics made it look like he’s a whiner. If he doesn’t throw a shutout in his first game and the fans turn on him (you’ve seen that happen) I could see him saying f–k St Louis and walking off. I don’t know why, I just have a really bad feeling about this.”

  10. djshnooks - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Ps. You forgot to mention Anaheim too…he wants to be in Cali, where his wife is.

    They don’t seem to have a legit #1 goalie.

  11. Wineshard - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    The conditional pick makes him a goner. If they made the conditional pick moot by making a long run in the playoffs then he probably would be back.

  12. bradkaz96 - Apr 30, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    And the Sabres win another Trade…

    • stevedurbano - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      When Stewart is in the middle of a 20 game scoring drought and spending all his time doing figure 8’s at the center line call me and we’ll talk. Ott for Stewart wasn’t a bad deal.

  13. tridecagon - Apr 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    I think all he’s saying is that Allen will be in St. Louis next year. He’s not saying whether he’ll be the backup or the starter – in the early part of the season, two goaltenders will battle for playing time, and in the march towards the playoffs, one of them will reveal himself to be the number 1 guy. Armstrong is only saying that Allen will be one of those two guys.

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