The St. Louis Blues traded goaltender Jake Allen to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday in a move that clears valuable salary cap space to try to keep their Stanley Cup-winning captain.
St. Louis received a third- and a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft in exchange for Allen and a 2022 seventh-rounder. Getting Allen’s $4.35 million cap hit off the books is more significant because it increases the chances of re-signing pending free agent defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
The 30-year-old Pietrangelo who lifted the Cup in Boston last year after St. Louis won its first title in franchise history was expected to be among the top players available when free agency opens in October. Pietrangelo has said he wants to stay with the Blues.
St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong will likely have to make at least one more trade to fit Pietrangelo under the $81.5 million ceiling, though it’s now a more reasonable proposition.
Dealing Allen also makes it clear Jordan Binnington is the Blues’ starting goalie of the present and future. After coming out of nowhere in the middle of the 2018-19 season and backstopping them to the Cup, Binnington was only average during the regular season and he struggled in the playoffs.
The Blues turned to Allen for their only two victories of the NHL restart, but coach Craig Berube still turned back to Binnington when facing elimination.
Allen, 30, gets a fresh start as a clear backup to Montreal starter Carey Price. While the Canadiens have wavered year to year on their backup situation, Price playing a league-high 58 games this season was enough to prompt a change.