Thursday, July 25, 2013

RFA Jake Allen signs two-year deal with Blues

Goalie will play under two-way contract in 2013-14, one-way in 2014-15

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues are down to a pair of restricted free agents to sign after they signed goalie Jake Allen to a new contract Thursday.

Allen and the Blues have agreed to a two-year contract, with the first year being a two-way deal for $750,000/$125,000 and a one-way contract in 2014-15 for $850,000.

Allen, 22, burst onto the scene last season, virtually kick-starting the Blues' season on Feb. 13 when he helped the team snap an 0-4-1 slide with a 4-3 overtime victory at Detroit.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jake Allen (left) makes a save on Columbus' Mark Letestu in a game last
season at Scottrade Center.
Allen went on to post a 9-4-0 record with a 2.46 goals-against average, which led all NHL rookies in both categories

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Allen posted the best winning percentage for a Blues rookie in franchise history (.692) with at least 10 games played and became the first rookie since Curtis Joseph in 1989-90 to record at least nine wins.

The Fredericton, New Brunswick native, drafted by the Blues with the 34th pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, was 13-19-2 with a 2.89 GAA and .904 save percentage for the American Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen last season.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong indicated at the team's exit meetings that Allen has, "... certainly proven based on his work (last) year that he's at the point now where I don't think now going back to the American Hockey League ... I don't think he needs more seasoning. He's one of three right now. He doesn't need waivers to go back to the American Hockey League, but he has proven to me that he deserves an opportunity to play in the NHL."

Armstrong went on to say, "I think anything could happen. It was a difficult year for both (Brian) Elliott and Jaro (Halak) and I think Jake took great advantage of it. He's proven to us now that he has to go in the equation."

Allen will get that opportunity and fit into the equation in the second year of his contract, but both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, each who have one year, respectively, remaining on their deals, will be the tandem once the regular season opens Oct. 3, and Allen will be in Chicago playing for the Wolves and the Blues' new AHL affiliate.

Armstrong talked about the three-headed goalie situation being at the time "a cloudy issue," but called it a "positive cloudy in one sense (because) Jake has given us things that we have to look at."

But the Blues appear comfortable in going back to the tandem of Halak and Elliott, one in which won the Jennings Trophy in 2011-12.

"We've got three under contract," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said at the conclusion of the season. "We're in a tough position for three goalies, but we're in a great position organizationally-wise.

"We've got three good goalies. ... All I know is if you're under contract, I'm assuming your coming back and you're going to be ready to go and let the competition stand where it is. That's what training camp's for. I'm looking forward to actually having a training camp myself. I haven't had one here yet. That's three good goalies into two good nets. ... All I know is we've got three good goalies. Tough on the goalies, good for the coach."

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) agreed to a new two-year contract on Thursday.
Hitchcock last week praised the off-season work of Halak, who is coming off a pair of groin injuries that shortened his season to 16 games (6-5-1, 2.14 GAA and .899 save percentage). Halak has trained this off-season in St. Louis on the heels of last season and the playoff spat he had with Hitchcock during the playoff series loss to Los Angeles. That all seems like a distant memory despite the summer-long rumors of the possibility the Blues were looking to trade Halak and the $4.5 million salary remaining on his contract ($3.75 million cap hit).

"The stuff with Jaro, that's an every day occurrence," Hitchcock said at the time. "Arguments and discussions that go on with players and playing time and all that stuff that was discussed in the media, that's the ongoing stuff.

"If he wasn't pissed and disappointed, I'd be surprised. To me, if you're under contract, get ready to play."

With Allen's signing, the Blues' remaining unsigned restricted free agents are defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and winger Magnus Paajarvi.

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