The St. Louis Blues back up goalie situation was in a state of flux this off season with the team have to decide on bringing back Ty Conklin, who had been servicable, promote young Ben Bishop, or sign another veteran net-minder. GM Doug Armstrong went with a bit of numbers two and three by signing Brian Elliott from Colorado. Elliott comes in, not as the backup, but as competition for Ben Bishop for that spot.
Elliott was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators and helped lead them to the playoffs two seasons ago. Big things were expected out of him last year but Elliott and the Sens got off to a slow start and couldn’t recover. At the trade deadline, Elliott was dealt to Colorado in a straight goalie swap for Craig Anderson. Both goaltenders had struggled during the year and both teams thought a change of scenary would do them both good.
Elliott finished the season with a 15-27-9 record, an .893 save percentage, a 3.34 goals against average and 3 shut outs. His high point of the year came all the way back in November, when he had a five game winning streak. During the streak, Elliott gave up a total of seven goals but it was his only sustained streak of the year as he never won more then two in a row the rest of the year. In the three games following the win streak, Elliott gave up 14 goals, an average of over 4 goals a game.
Whether it was due to poor defensive play in front of him or a lack of confidence, Elliott had a multitude of terrible games. In his 51 games, Elliott gave up 5 or more goals in 9 of them, leading to his high goals against average. One of the reasons he was brought in by the Blues was his decent play against the Central; Elliott was 2-2-2 with 16 goals allowed against the Central.
The Blues brought Elliott in due to his stretches of good play, which served him well as the back up in Ottawa and his experience will puch Ben Bishop to play his best games in the preseason. In order for Elliott to be the back up a few things will have to happen. One is that he has to make the most of his chances in the preseason and his performance against the Lightning in the first preseason game was a good indicator of how he can fill the back up role.
Bishop is going to have to struggle to find his place if Elliott is to stay on the NHL club. But in the second preseason game, against a full Lightning line up, Bishop matched Elliot save for save. Although he gave up more goals, Bishop did have to face more of a veteran lineup.
In all likelihood, Elliott will start the season with Peoria as the Blues will see if Bishop can handle the rigors of the NHL back up position. By signing Elliott to a two way contract, he will not have to clear waivers if the team decides to call him up. Elliott will see some time in the NHL and will win a few games for St. Louis but look for him to shine in Peoria and mentor Jake Allen along the way.
If Elliott plays his game he will finish with a 3-1-0 record with a 3.25 GAA in St. Louis. In Peoria, Elliott should see a bit more time and will finish with a 21-11-5 record and a 2.97 GAA.