Friday, June 24, 2016

Blues trade Elliott to Flames for picks, select Thompson in first round

Deal paves way for Allen to take reigns as No. 1 goalie; 
source indicated Shattenkirk trade talk to Edmonton surrounds three forwards 

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues made a trade at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, sending goalie Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames for the 35th pick in this draft and a conditional 2018 third-round pick.

The condition is contingent on the Flames resigning Elliott, who has one year at $2.5 million AAV ($2.7 million in salary) remaining on his current contract.

Elliott, 31, leaves the Blues as the all-time leader in shutouts (25), doing it in five seasons.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brian Elliott leaves St. Louis after five seasons as the franchise leader in
shutouts with 26. He was traded to the Calgary Flames for picks on Friday.

He was 23-8-6 in 42 regular season games with a 2.07 goals-against average and NHL-leading .930 save percentage this past season, then went 9-9 with a 2.44 GAA and .921 save percentage in helping lead the Blues to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2001.

In five seasons with the Blues, Elliott was 104-46-16 with a 2.01 GAA and .925 save percentage in 181 regular season games. 

The move signifies the Blues, who initially were planning on a 1-2 punch with Elliott and Jake Allen, are ready to hand the keys over to Allen, who also has one year remaining on his contract.

"I never really saw it coming from talks at the end of the year," Allen said by phone. "It seemed like this was the way they were going to go into next season, but things can change in a hurry in this business. They talked as a management and these decisions just don't happen in the blink of an eye. Something changed there, but I feel like I'm ready. I feel I've gotten better every year that I've played since I turned pro at 20 years old. I feel like I've gotten better each year. I feel like this is going to be a real good opportunity for me to showcase what I can do and I'm looking forward to it.

"It's unfortunately the nature of our business and it's sad for me to see (Elliott) go. I couldn't ask for a better person and better partner to be with for the first couple years of my NHL career. I wish him the most success in Calgary. I know he'll have a lot of success there. He's a great goalie and they're getting one coming their way."

Elliott is 165-99-32 in 323 NHL regular season games for the Blues, Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche with a 2.40 GAA and .914 save percentage with 34 career shutouts. He was 14-17 in 33 postseason games with a 2.32 GAA and .917 save percentage.

Allen said he'll miss his friend.

"It's just the fact you know you had someone you're comfortable with right by your side night in, night out," Allen said. "Even if you have an off-night, you have a guy that can come in and clean up the mess and help you out and give your team a chance. But whatever happens, the other goaltender that's going to be there, with me this year, I'm sure the Blues and Doug (Armstrong) will do a good job in finding another guy that's very capable of stepping in and playing games and playing important minutes. You still need both goalies. It's not a one-man show. You need both goalies to have success in this league."

Allen, the 34th pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, will enter his fourth season at the start of 2016-17. He's 57-26-7 with a 2.34 GAA and .915 save percentage with 11 career shutouts after coming off a career-high 26 victories when he was 26-15-3 with a 2.35 GAA and career-high .920 save percentage with six shutouts in 47 games.

Allen, who played limited games because of a pair of lower-body injuries that forced him to miss 20 games, now gets the road paved for him as the clear-cut No. 1.

"That's what you play for. You want to be the guy," Allen said. "You want to be the guy even if you lose 10-0 one night and they put you right back in the next night and they have all the confidence and faith in you. I think that's when I play my best. I play my best hockey when I play and I know I'm the guy. I'm looking forward to that challenge. It's not going to be easy. There's still going to be bumps in the road, but I feel the work I've put in throughout my career, not just in the NHL but since I strapped on the pads, it's going to pay off. Hopefully I have a good summer this year and I come into training camp on a positive and exciting note.

"I want to be part of the Blues for a long time. That's my objective, my goal since I was drafted. I think I'm on the right foot right now. I think we have a great core and have the potential to be real good for a long time. Not many teams can say that. We're fortunate to have that."

The Blues and Elliott's new team, the Flames, will get acclimated early in the season. St. Louis plays at Calgary on Oct. 22 and the return matchup is three days later in St. Louis on Oct. 25.

"It'll be a little weird, but it'll be fun," Allen said. "You've got to have fun in this game. If you don't, something's wrong. There's going to be some fun competition. Maybe we'll have a little wager on the line on the side. I think it'll be enjoyable to play him a couple times a year in Calgary and in St. Louis."

The Blues will now search for a backup goalie and can turn back to restricted free agent Anders Nilsson to be Allen's backup or Armstrong can turn to the free agent market.

There was plenty of scuttlebutt regarding trades heading into the first day of the draft, and Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was at the top of the table for players with the potential to be traded. 

Shattenkirk, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, has been rumored to be on the list of a number of teams, but a source close to the Blues said that one of the teams the Blues have spoken with are the Edmonton Oilers and that the Oilers, who are on the hunt for a top-pair defenseman, were said to be offering center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft.

However, the source said that the Blues asking price is one of either left wing Taylor Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, or right wing Jordan Eberle, the 22nd pick in 2008.

As for the draft, the Blues, who were originally positioned to pick 28th in the first round, moved up two spots to No. 26 to select 6-foot-5, 185-pound center Tage Thompson, who played his freshman year last season at the University of Connecticut.

Thompson scored 14 goals and added 18 assists in 36 games for UConn after playing for the USA U-18 developmental team in 2014-15.

Thompson is the son of Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson, who was an assistant for the Peoria Rivermen, once the American Hockey League affiliate of the Blues.

Thompson was part of a record 12 American-born players selected in the first round.

"It's pretty exciting getting drafted and being a part of a trend of US Hockey," Thompson said on NBCSN. "It's something pretty special."

Thompson said he models his game of that of Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry.

"I think I'm a big, skilled power forward," Thompson said. "I have a knack for making plays; I've got a pretty good shot. I think those are some of the things I'm going to bring to the table."

From a local perspective, the St. Louis AAA Blues stole the show in the first round with five -- FIVE -- players selected.

Left wing Matthew Tkachuk, the 6-1, 202-pound son of former Blue Keith Tkachuk and one of Matthew's coaches with the AAA Blues, was selected sixth by the Calgary Flames after helping lead the London Knights to the Ontario Hockey League championship. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues are said to be shopping Kevin Shattenkirk and talks have 
centered around the Edmonton Oilers, according to a source.

Right behind Tkachuk was center Clayton Keller to the Arizona Coyotes. Keller, who is 5-10, 168, spent last season with the US U-18 team. 

Logan Brown, son of former Blue Jeff Brown who coached along with Keith Tkachuk with the AAA Blues, was picked at No. 11 by the Ottawa Senators, who traded up to get the big 6-6, 208 pound center who played for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. 

The Minnesota Wild grabbed 5-11, 193-pound center Luke Kunin with the 15th pick. Kunin had 19 goals and 32 points in 34 games with the University of Wisconsin.

And finally, center Trent Frederic, who is 6-2 and 203 pounds, went at No. 29 to the Boston Bruins after playing for the US U-18 team a season ago.

The Toronto Maple Leafs took center Auston Matthews with the first pick. 

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