- Craig Custance
For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, it’s a disappointment. A huge one. For the second consecutive season, the reigning champs knocked the St. Louis Blues out of the playoffs in the first round. Last year, it was the Los Angeles Kings; this time around, the Chicago Blackhawks.
This was a Blues team that at times looked destined to finally make a postseason breakthrough but didn’t. It makes for a long summer and the temptation to do something rash during that time, but the Blues are still relatively young. There’s no reason to blow things up or throw away GM Doug Armstrong’s meticulous plan because they keep running into postseason powerhouses.
The breakthrough will happen one day in St. Louis, and here are some offseason moves that might help get them there a year from now:
1. Hand the goalie keys to Jake Allen
Had Ryan Miller been the difference in beating the Blackhawks and helped the Blues go on a long playoff run, it would make a lot more sense to keep him long term and send another draft pick to Buffalo as part of the conditional trade. But with the early exit -- in which he had an .897 save percentage through six games, along with the .903 save percentage he posted during the regular season with St. Louis -- it doesn’t make sense sinking more assets into Miller or blocking current assets in the organization, like Allen.
Allen had a .928 save percentage for the Chicago Wolves and was named the AHL’s goalie of the year. Taking some of the money saved on Miller and applying it elsewhere in the lineup, while signing a veteran backup and safety net, makes sense for the Blues. Re-signing Brian Elliott for that task is a possibility. Adding a guy like Jonas Hiller would also make sense, provided they can do it at a reasonable price and term.
2. Sign Paul Stastny