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An Analysis of the St. Louis Blues Goalies

The St. Louis Blues have some talent at the goalie position, both at the NHL and AHL level. Some of the those at the AHL level, could be very well ready for the NHL soon. Let’s take a look at the goaltending in their system as a whole.

St. Louis Blues Fans Remember That Goaltending Wins Championships

Rarely does a team win the Stanley Cup Championship without a great goalie. Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins will remember Marc-Andre Fleury‘s diving save in the final seconds of Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. Or more recently, Matt Murray winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, the first of which, completed as a rookie. Fans of the great Patrick Roy will remember his record-setting three Conn Smythe Trophy wins. Even fans of the Anaheim Ducks will remember Jean-Sebastian Giguere’s remarkable run to the 2003 Conn Smythe Trophy, despite the Ducks falling in the Stanley Cup Final to the New Jersey Devils.

As it is the month of June, St. Louis Blues fans are certainly not going to forget the run of Jordan Binnington in 2019. The magical run ended with the first Stanley Cup in franchise history on June 12, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

Goaltending wins championships, but for the Blues, it has been five years since that magical night in Boston. The team has not made the playoffs in two seasons. It has been a time of analysis and discovering talent that will hopefully build the core of the next Stanley Cup Championship in St. Louis. So, what does the current pool of goalies in the Blues system bring to the table?

Goalies in the St. Louis Blues Organization

The Blues finalized their goalie situation by giving Colten Ellis a one-year, two-way contract. The Blues are expected to have five goalies in the system for the upcoming season.

At the NHL level, Jordan Binnington will retain his status as the starting goalie. Joel Hofer will have backup duty for a second year after a strong performance last year in his first full season.

Ellis and Vadim Zherenko are expected to split the goaltending duties with the Blues American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. Furthermore, Will Cranley will likely return to the ECHL.

Studying All St. Louis Blues Goalies Starting With Jordan Binnington Analysis

Binnington was drafted by the Blues in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. In December of 2018, Binnington was called up to backup struggling goalie Jake Allen. After a shutout in his first career NHL start that season, Binnington would lead the Blues on an improbable run to the Stanley Cup. Binnington finished the regular season with a 24-5-1 record and a .930 SV%. History would also be made as Binnington became the first rookie goalie to win all sixteen games of a team’s Stanley Cup run.

Binnington followed up his rookie year with an All-Star second year, as the Blues won the Central Division in the pandemic-shortened season. Binnington was 30-13-7 with a .912 SV%. Unfortunately, his success did not carry into the bubble post-season. Binnington struggled in the playoffs that year in the bubble. He was even benched in favour of Jake Allen for a few games. Binnington had a .851 SV% in his five post-season games in the bubble.

Even if Binnington Struggled, He Has Bounced Back

Binnington did however bounce back and posted a .910 save percentage in the 2020-21 season. The following season, 2021-22, Binnington’s struggles from the bubble came back, and he eventually lost his starting job to Ville Husso. Binnington would earn another shot, as Husso struggled in the first three games of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Trailing in the series 2-1, Binnington started Game 4 and led the Blues to three-straight wins, outscoring the Minnesota Wild 15-5.

The following season, Binnington posted a .894 SV% to go with a 27-27-6 record as the Blues struggled as a team. However, many felt Binnington’s subpar numbers had to do with a weak defensive game in front of him, suggesting Binnington had played better than his final statistics indicated. He would prove this to be true in the 2023-24 season. Moreover, Binngington posted his best numbers since his All-Star season, going 28-21-5 with a .913 SV%.

Binnington heads into the new season firmly established at the team’s number one goalie. Binnington’s strong 2023-24 season suggest he is the goalie the Blues can build around as they look to work back towards being a contender. Only injury or ineffectiveness will cost Binnington his starting job.

Analysis of Joel Hofer

Hofer was drafted by the Blues in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He played junior hockey for two seasons following the draft. He did however struggle the first season after being drafted with a 4.02 GAA and a 6-21-1 record. Despite this, Hofer still got positive reports as a prospect.

Fast forward to his professional career, and after getting eight starts scattered over two seasons, Hofer got the chance in the 2023-24 season to the Blues backup goalie. Hofer started 27 games for the Blues, going 15-12-1 with a .914 SV%. Hofer got a decent amount of starts down the stretch of the regular season as the Blues were fighting for a playoff spot.

Starting 32% of Blues’s games last season, Hofer proved he was a reliable goalie, which earned him the starts late in the season. Hofer will head into the new season as the Blues backup goalie. Like Binnington, injury or ineffectiveness should be Hofer’s only threat to his role with the team.

Next Wave of St. Louis Blues Goalies and Analysis of Colten Ellis

Ellis was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Of the remaining three goalies, Ellis is the most interesting. Ellis ranked fifth among AHL goalies with a .924 save percentage. Ellis has only played in 22 AHL games, so the Blues will need to see a bigger sample size. However, if Ellis can repeat this success, he could find himself penciled in as the Blues third goalie on the depth chart. If Binnington or Hofer were to get injured, Ellis would be the first goalie called up.

It will be interesting to watch Ellis this upcoming training camp and preseason. You want to see if he gets some starts in the preseason how how he does against NHL players. Ellis could put himself on the radar this upcoming training camp and preseason.

Analysis of Vadhim Zherenko

The Blues drafted Zherenko in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

In two seasons in the AHL, Zherenko has showed signs of improvement. He still has a long way to go before the NHL is knocking on his door. A .904 SV% increased to 0.913. A 3.49 GAA dropped some to 3.14. Zherenko is a work-in-progress. In addition, he should benefit from consistent playing time in the AHL this season. He will split time with Ellis. If Ellis were to get called up, that would give Zherenko more starts. Zherenko is not on the immediate Blues’s radar, but a strong AHL season can change that.

Analysis of Will Cranley

Will Cranley was drafted in the sixth round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in the ECHL since being drafted and has only played one game in the AHL.

In 33 ECHL games, Cranley has posted a 3.78 GAA. Like Zherenko, this leaves Cranley off the radar for now. It will be interesting to see if Cranley can improve in the ECHL and then make a successful transition to the AHL.

The Blues Options

The St. Louis Blues have their starter and backup duo of goalies in place. In addition, they have someone who they can pencil in as a third goalie. Also, there are two goalies who will continue to develop their skills. For the Blues to be in this spot before the draft is definitely a positive. The goaltending depth of the team means the Blues can look to fill in other positions of need. Goaltending should be a strength of the team in 2024-25 and beyond.

Main photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports


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