Blues' Goaltending Situation

The St. Louis Blues hockey club has been using goalie after goalie after goalie this season. With Brent Johnson getting injured over the summer, Fred Brathwaite, Reinhard Divis, Curtis Sanford and Cody Rudkowsky have all been used thus far. The team, in hopes to fill a temporary hole in the goaltending department, has signed UFA Tom Barrasso, who has played eighteen seasons in the NHL. But now that Fred Brathwaite has returned from injury and Brent Johnson is extremely close to being 100%, who will be the odd-man out?With NHL general managers knowing that one of the three goalies will have to be put on waivers, there will be no trades proposed to the Blues for a goalie.

It is unlikely Tom Barrasso would be put on waivers or traded, since he has just been signed and has not played a single game yet.

Many people believe that the man to be put on waivers would be Fred Brathwaite, the backup to Johnson last season. Brathwaite had a record of 0-1-1 before his injury with a 3.50 GAA. But his save percentage was well over .900. Since returning from injury, Brathwaite has posted a 5-1-0 record (all five wins coming in the Blues’ most recent nine-game winning streak), with one shutout and a GAA of 1.27, showing he really is fighting to stay a Blue. With numbers like that, it would be very hard for the Blues to make a decision.

“Its going to be harder than people think,” tells coach Joel Quenneville, “it’s not a decision set in stone. We have to consider this from every angle.”

Blues management has also all ready stated that when Brent Johnson is ready to play again, he will be the number one man. General manager Larry Pleau tells the St. Louis Post Dispatch this: “Brent (Johnson) is our guy. He is the guy that we will stick with. The matter of who wants to be his backup is up for grabs.” (This quote was made when Barrasso flew into St. Louis for his physical a couple of weeks ago before being actually signed.)

My question is, why do you go ahead and say that this guy is the number one guy? How do you know he will be 100%? How do you know Brathwaite or Barrasso will gracefully step aside without wanting a battle for the number one spot?

With the effort Blues goaltenders have put up this season, competition is a must for Blues hockey. Reinhard Divis will need to clear waivers before being sent to Worcester, the Blues’ AHL affiliate, so he is expected to be out of the picture.

There have been rumors flowing around St. Louis that possibly the Blues would stick with Brathwaite and Barrasso, sending Johnson out. Brathwaite has backstopped many great games, and Barrasso has always proven strong when needed.

Plus, there have been teams who have sent a skater to their farm team to carry three goaltenders. If the Blues were to do this, they could say to the other thirty NHL teams that if they want a Blues’ goaltender, they must try to make a deal for one of them.

I believe that the Blues should do this option, (I do not know if this would even be an option. Since the rosters widen around playoff time, that might be when the teams carry three goalies). Trading Johnson could get the Blues any kind of player they may want; a high draft pick, any kind of forward or even a defenseman.

Either way, a Blues goaltender will be packing his bags and on to another NHL city this season, so GMs will be watching this team very carefully. Reinhard Divis is expected to be nabbed up right away but the next man out of St. Louis is still unknown.

~Jeff P.