Much has been made coming into the season about the goaltending of the St. Louis Blues, and that will likely continue to be the case as the season wears on. Jaroslav Halak comes into the season as the starter, despite trade rumors this past summer that apparently already had him dressing for a new club.
In the event that Halak struggles, the Blues already have a pair of contingency plans, in both Brian Elliot and youngster Jake Allen. Much of the focus has been on what will happen if and when Halak fails or gets injured, as if both are already foregone conclusions. While he’s given us little reason to think anything else, what if he succeeds?
There’s no doubt that Halak possesses an elite level skill set. After all this was a guy that helped the Blues nearly capture a Presidents Trophy in 2011-12. His second year with the club featured a 1.97 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, including six shutouts, just one off of his career mark, which he set in his first season in St. Louis.
The talent is there. There’s little doubt about it. But with the issues he’s had over the last year with the Blues, which ultimately resulted in them being eliminated in the first round of last year’s postseason, despite coming into the season as heavy Stanley Cup favorites out of the Western Conference, his future with the club is in question.
Not much talk has focused on potential success. If he’s able to rebound and put together a successful season, he could establish himself as the Blues’ goaltender of the future, and continue to stave off Jake Allen. He could earn a new contract. Most importantly for the Blues, though, it could mean a deep playoff run, and perhaps a certain piece of hardware that has eluded them for quite some time.
Of course, Halak has a whole lot to prove, and a long way to go, before any of us start to believe that type of talk.