The emergence of Binnington.
On January 7th, 2019, the fate of a young goalie and 52 years of franchise anguish would start on a path that even Mr. Destany could not have predicted. Jordan Binnington, the 25-year-old 3rd round draft pick in 2011, would make his first NHL start. The rest they say is history.
At the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, Binnington was not even considered a top 3 prospect in the St Louis Blues organization. He was even a back up to his current back-up. Binnington was loaned to the Boston Bruins minor league team the Providence Bruins for 28 games in the 2017-2018 season. He was one of the bright spots for Providence posting a 2.05 GAA and a .926 S%.
With that success, you think he would move up on the Blues depth chart. Nope, he was still 3rd or 4th in their minor league system. An afterthought.
Binnington had kept his faith that he was good enough to be in the NHL and never stopped working.
New Season, High Expectations.
The 2018-2019 season was one with high expectations for the Blues organization. The Blues missed out on the 2018 playoffs by a single point, after laying an egg in the final game of the season. The Blues allowed free-agent goalie Carter Hutton to depart. They then signed journeyman G Chad Johnson, to back up Jake Allen.
The Blues had high hopes and were looking for a great season and playoff run. They had made several trades and free-agent signings. Trading a number 1 pick in Tage Thompson, and a little dead weight along with a future 1st round pick to Buffalo for disgruntled Ryan O’Reilly. They also signed free agents former Blue David Perron, and home-grown Patrick Marron.
The 2018-2019 season for the Blues did not start with a bang but whit a thud. Losing the opener 5-1 to the Winnipeg Jets. The Blues were playing some of the worst hockey in the NHL. On November 19th, 2018, after being shut out by the last place LA Kings, the Blues fired head coach Mike Yeo and named assistant coach Craig Berube as interim. Berube had played in the NHL for years and was the head coach for the Flyers during the 13-14 and 14-15 seasons.
CULTURE CHANGE AND A YOUNG CONFIDENT GOALIE
When Berube was named head coach he started immediately to implement changes in the Blues culture and style of play. He and the Blues did not get off to a quick successful start. However, it was time for a change in goal.
Binnington’s hard work was being noticed in San Antonio. He had surpassed G Ville Husso as the starter. He would be called up in mid-December.
Starter Jake Allen was failing the eye test from every angle. Just when it seemed he might have had his game back; he could not keep a beachball out of the net.
Coach Berube knew he had to make a change, Binnington was the next man up.
TEAM SUCCESS AND PERSONAL SUCCESS
Binnington’s coolness and stone-faced responses, including his famous “Do I look nervous “, help propel the Blues to an 11-game winning streak and into the heart of the playoff race. His confidence also rubbed off on Allen, as Allen started to find his game in the backup role.
Binnington helped turned the team around and was one of the keys to the Blues winning their first cup in 52 years at the end of the 2019 playoffs. He was the runner-up for the Calder Award, made the All-Rookie 1st team.
Binnington had arrived. A restricted free agent at the end of 2019, he made $431K while winning the cup. He was due a huge raise. The Blues inked their new star to a 2yr $8.8 million contract.
He has earned it. This is his second year of the deal. He will be a free agent at the end of 2021. With each stone face remark, with each spectacular save, and with each win, he is creating a wonderful problem for General Manager Doug Armstrong.
Binnington has played 91 games to date. He has recorded a 60-19-9 with a GAA of 2.33 along with a save percentage of .917. He is second in wins, and in the top ten in GAA and S% (min 30 games played) in that span.
He set the rookie record for wins in the playoffs, winning all 16 of the Blues games en route to Hockey’s ultimate prize.
BIG CONTRACT IS COMING AFTER THIS SEASON
The Blues would be smart to sign him before he reaches free agency after this season. However, it is not in his best interest to do so. The Blues do not want to find themselves in a bidding war with other teams. It is most likely he will be asking for a 6–8-year contract in the range of around $7 mill plus per year.
Can the Blues afford to pay him? Can the Blues afford not to? Those are questions Doug Armstrong must answer.
All Blues and Binnington fans want these questions answered sooner rather than later.
Host: The Drop Podcast
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing