The Blues locked up one of their three remaining restricted free agents on Thursday, announcing they had re-signed goaltender Jake Allen to a two-year extension.
The extension agreed upon suits the Blues' needs well. At the same time, it alludes heavily to the direction the Blues are headed in net.
For the first year of the contract, the 2013-14 campaign, Allen's contract is a two-way deal, meaning his salary varies depending on whether or not he receives a call-up to the National Hockey League level. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Allen will make $125,000 at the American Hockey League level, but if he plays at the NHL level, he will make $750,000.
In year two, Allen will make $850,000 either way, as his two-way deal becomes a one-way deal. The year Allen's deal becomes one-way, both Jaroslv Halak and Brian Elliott are up for contract extensions, both slotted to become unrestricted free agents at that time. It certainly appears as though the Blues plan on moving forward in the future without one, or both, of those goalies.
The Blues feel confident in Allen's abilities after the 22-year old goaltender showed his NHL-readiness last season. Allen was called up this past February to try and stop the Blues from spiraling out of control. Jaroslav Halak was battling a nagging groin injury, while Elliott's efforts in net were futile.
Allen stepped up, winning eight of his first nine games with the Blues. Elliott bounced back soon after, and the Blues wound up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The end result could have been different if Allen hadn't stepped in.
As a reward for his efforts, Allen was named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team last month. He was chosen by voters from the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Allen led all rookie goaltenders in wins, save percentage and goals against average this past season, making him the easy choice for the All-Rookie Team.
In all, Allen won nine games, boasting a 9-4 record in his first NHL season. He had a .905 save percentage to go along with a 2.46 goals against average in 15 games with St. Louis.
It appears the Blues are more comfortable with the Halak-Elliott tandem in net for this upcoming season, but won't hesitate to call on Allen if necessary. After next season, it certainly looks as though the Blues see Allen in their plans moving forward.
With Allen locked up, the Blues have two remaining restricted free agents to re-sign before the season.
The club has yet to reach an agreement with forward Magnus Paajarvi, whom the club recently acquired from Edmonton in exchange for David Perron, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Both Paajarvi and Pietrangelo are coming off of their entry-level contracts. Pietrangelo is looking for a long-term agreement that includes a large pay raise. Both Paajarvi and Pietrangelo are expected to be re-signed by the Blues before training camp opens in September.
The Blues have close to $8.2 million in cap space remaining to lock up both Pietrangelo and Paajarvi.