Jake Allen will have two more years to prove to the St. Louis Blues that he can be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.
The Blues announced Friday that they have re-signed the 24-year-old netminder, who was a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tom Timmermann, the deal will pay Allen $2.2 million in 2015-16 and give him a pay raise to $2.5 million in year two.
This past season, following an injury to Blues netminder Brian Elliott, Allen was thrust into the spotlight as St. Louis’ top netminder. St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong brought in veteran netminder Martin Brodeur to help lighten the load, but it was Allen who shone through and took the starting reins from Brodeur during Elliott’s absence.
When Elliott returned, however, Allen’s play was such that he split time in the crease instead of heading into the backup role. Down the homestretch, Allen suited up for four of St. Louis’ final six games and, after Elliott allowed two goals on 25 shots to the Minnesota Wild in the final game of the regular season, Allen was given the starting job for the post-season series against the same Wild.
While Allen didn’t allow many goals against – in only one of six games did he allow more than two – the combination of a struggling St. Louis offense and Allen’s inability to come up with the big save when the Blues needed it most sent the Central Division champion Blues packing. Minnesota eliminated St. Louis in six games and the Blues exited the post-season in the first round for the third consecutive season.
Regardless of his play in the post-season, though, Allen is still young and has tremendous potential. In the AHL, Allen has been a standout and over 172 games of regular season action in the Blues farm system, he has posted a 84-74-10 record with 16 shutouts, 2.53 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
The concern, though, is that at the NHL level Allen has been average thus far. Though his record is superb – it’s hard to argue with 31-11-4 – his career GAA is 2.33 and he has a .911 SP, which is well below average. Of the 57 goalies who have played at least 1,500 minutes at 5-on-5 over the past two seasons, Allen ranked 35th with a .920 SP, which puts him in the same company as Antti Niemi, Jhonas Enroth and Kari Lehtonen.
Re-signing Allen shows that the Blues are comfortable with their current net tandem of Allen and Elliott, though, which may mean the front office staff believes the club is good enough as it stands to make a deep run into the post-season. If the goaltending duo fails them, however, both are set to become free agents in 2017-18. If strides aren’t made, both Allen and Elliott could be out as Blues.