Those of you who know me, or who read what I write here or anywhere else that I do work, know that I’m a bit of a pessimist. I prefer the term “pragmatist,” but no one ever seems to agree with me. Maybe it’s because with the exception of the Cardinals, my sports teams always seem to find some way to shoot themselves in the foot. Actually, subtract those recent World Series, and the Cards could be included. I had a feeling Albert Pujols was gone, and I have a terrible feeling about Yadier Molina. Hockey-wise, one team drug me through the dirt for eleven years to make the playffs only once, and of course get swept out. Then, to add insult to injury, they trade the best two players the franchise has ever had. Just to REALLY make sure that they’ve hurt me enough, they skip town and go to Winnipeg.
The Blues? Oh, they’ve been kicking me since I was little. Cujo? Shanny? Mike Keenan made them both cry before he shipped them out. Trading Adam Oates? Brilliant. Scaring Wayne Gretzky away when it was apparent that he wanted to retire in STL? Sure! Why not? Oh, and let the franchise’s most recognizable player ever walk as a UFA without compensation? Throw that in there too.
Don’t even get me started on Chris Pronger.
The Blues’ve had successes — Presidents Trophies and a professional sports record 25 years in a row in the playoffs, sure. Have they won the big prize? Not yet, but many feel that the way that they’ve been playing this season is an indication that they could be ready to contend. A big chunk of that comes from their GAA leading goaltending tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Halak was heralded as the first actual franchise goaltender since Curtis Joseph, and it was always assumed that big Ben Bishop — all 6 feet 8 inches of him — was going to be the goalie of tomorrow.
He’s the goalie of tomorrow, all right… for the Ottawa Senators. The Blues traded him on February 26th to the Sens for a 2013 second round draft pick. Pretty good return, but how’d Bishop get expendable? Jake Allen’s been playing very well for the Peoria Rivermen, the Blues’ AHL affiliate. Brian Elliott, who surprised many by winning the back-up job out of camp, recently signed a two year deal as a reward for his NHL-best numbers.
Bishop suddenly became extra weight. Great extra weight to have, but there wasn’t a place for him in the org anymore. He knew it, the fans knew it, everyone knew it, so now he gets a much deserved chance to shine in Ottawa at the NHL level.
I’m still kind of worried. This might be my pessimistic nature coming out to play, but Bishop is too good of a prospect to have shipped off for a pick. He could have been grouped with other parts for an offensive player that the Blues need right now; many teams need help, and the Senators — while they do — weren’t on many people’s list of teams that needed it now. If you’re going to send away your next best goalie, you better be sure in what you have now.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong seems to be confident in Halak and Bishop, and while I’ve been impressed with both of their numbers this year, I’ve watched enough of Elliott over the seasons to be concerned. I remember watching him play the Thrashers as the young young up and comer for the Sens, and I was impressed. Then he started putting up numbers like this.
You have to assume that a bit of that has been him playing on some terrible teams. This year’s Blues squad is generally very good defensively and has certainly helped both Elliott and Halak’s numbers out. But what happens if Elliott regresses to the mean, or below it? Where do the Blues turn? Allen’s not ready for the show yet.
Here’s hoping that regression never happens. The little nagging voice inside of my head isn’t so sure. Still, turning a third round pick into a second round one’s an upgrade. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that second rounder works out.