Blues’ Future in Net Still Uncertain

The question on many St. Louis Blues fans’ minds is what the future holds for their goaltenders, Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso. While Binnington is still owed $30 million over the next five seasons, Husso is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and is outplaying Binnington to earn the club’s starting job. The potential of holding on to both goaltenders with a price tag in excess of $5 million would land them near the top of NHL’s highest-paid goalie tandems.

Binnington’s Win Over Isles a Step in the Right Direction

The Blues and Binnington took a step in the right direction Saturday night against the New York Islanders as they cruised to a 6-1 victory at the Enterprise Center. Stopping 30 of 31 shots, it was the first win the 28-year-old goaltender has secured since Feb. 27 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

After the game, Binnington stated: “It felt good. I’ve been trying to put in the work for a while now. We played a great game, great first period, great second period. It was fun to feel the flow of the game again and a little bit of rhythm. It was a lot of fun. Good Saturday night in St. Louis.”

Binnington has vastly underperformed this season, a shell of his 2019 Stanley Cup-winning form. As a result, and because of his $6 million annual cap hit, he has been the subject of recent trade rumors. The DailyFaceoff’s Frank Seravalli noted: “Yes, sources say Blues (general manager) Doug Armstrong contacted teams perceived to be active on the goaltending market and pitched the 2019 Stanley Cup champion as a potential solution to their problems.”

The season has been a tough one for Binnington and one that he will likely want to put behind him. As the team continues to push for the second spot in the Central Division, his goaltending counterpart, Husso, has been getting the nod instead. If the team is going to put their faith in Husso, they will need Binnington to perform better to increase his trade value and appeal. With five years left on his contract after this season and a full no-trade clause until after the 2023-24 season, he is in complete control of his destiny.

Related: Blues Weekly: 20-Goal Scorers, Thomas, Saad, Leddy & More

While the club may have put their faith in Binnington with a long-term contract extension just over a year ago, the loss of Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Carl Gunnarsson, and Joel Edmundson has resulted in a new defensive core and a vastly different style since their championship season. The front office will likely need to rid themselves of the remaining $30 million on his contract, because to keep Binnington and double down on his ability, a substantial overhaul of the franchise’s defensive makeup will have to happen. The team may have an easier time moving their goaltender rather than two or even three members of the defense.

A Highly Paid Goaltending Duo Is an Unlikely Option

Expensive goalie tandems are rare in the NHL. With an $82.5 million cap for the 2022-23 season and 23 roster spots that need to be filled, general managers need to be cautious about who they offer contract extensions to and at what price. Though the 2021-22 season has yet to end, today, there are only three teams that offer a combined salary-cap hit of more than $10 million to their goaltenders.

TeamGoalies2022-23 Cap HitProjected Cap Space
MontrealAllen & Price$13,375,000$80,358
FloridaBobrovsky & Knight$10,925,000$4,566,666
Los AngelesQuick & Petersen$10,800,000$21,263,333
Tampa BayVasilevsky$9,500,000$0
SeattleGrubauer & Driedger$9,400,000$23,783,334
New York (Islanders)Varlamov & Sorokin$9,000,000$12,255,833
New JerseyDaws, Blackwood & Bernier$7,775,000$23,688,334
AnaheimGibson & Stolarz$7,350,000$41,167,500
VegasLehner & Brossoit$7,325,000$0
CalgaryMarkstrom & Vladar$6,750,000$27,137,500
CarolinaAndersen & Raanta$6,500,000$20,250,583
St. LouisBinnington$6,000,000$10,875,000
BostonUllmark & Swayman$5,925,000$4,562,083
NashvilleSaros & Ingram$5,733,333$26,278,858
New York (Rangers)Shesterkin$5,666,667$11,771,031
San JoseReimer & Hill$4,425,000$12,290,000
OttawaSogaard, Forsberg$3,675,000$21,680,953

If the Blues want to replicate Binnington’s contract history, they will likely consider a bridge deal for Husso before a long-term extension is offered. Binnington signed a two-year contract extension worth $8.8 million after his Stanley Cup-winning season. Should the club offer Husso something similar, it would leave Armstrong with approximately $6.4 million in cap space to fill the remaining five roster spots for the 2022-23 season.

However, Husso’s upcoming contract and cap hit could be similar to or higher than the sum and term of Cal Petersen of the Los Angeles Kings, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract extension on Sept. 22, 2021. As Husso and Petersen are the same age and are outperforming their counterparts, Husso and his agent could fight for a similar deal in negotiations. The Blues might be willing to offer him $5 million annually, but that price tag would prevent them from offering any substantial extensions or signing players moving forward unless one or two pieces are moved out to account for a combined $11 million goaltending cap hit.

While it may be an unpopular option, it is unlikely that Armstrong moves on from Binnington while retaining any salary. Moving on from any player, simply to make a move, has never been a path for the club’s front office. A salary dump of any kind would likely require the Blues to part ways with one or even two of their top prospects and could even include draft picks as well. If management does not receive an offer for Binnington that rids themselves of the entire contract, Blues fans could see both Husso and Binnington back next season.

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