The St. Louis Blues have invested in Jake Allen and likely will be rolling with him as the starter for the 2018-19 season. It’s also possible that they’ll want to re-sign one of the best backups in the league in Carter Hutton, filling their goaltending depth chart for the upcoming campaign.
If that’s the case, perhaps the Blues could use one of their better prospects, also a goaltender, to help acquire some pieces elsewhere on the roster. We know the Blues are looking for center help, and they are looking for a shakeup after missing the playoffs on the last night of the season.
Enter Ville Husso, the prospect they could deal, and the Edmonton Oilers, looking for a backup goalie and perhaps someone to challenge Cam Talbot.
Why Is He Out There?:
With Allen locked in as the starter and Hutton potentially returning, there isn’t a spot on the NHL roster for Husso at this time. In addition to that, the Blues also own the rights to Jordan Binnington, a 24-year old goaltending prospect currently on loan to the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
The Blues, with two quality goaltending prospects and two options already at the NHL level, could deal from their surplus to address other areas of need. The need a center after dealing Paul Stastny at the deadline, and could use some speed on the wings as well.
Husso won’t be given away, but he could be bait to address one of those holes.
What Does He Do Well?:
In just his second season in North America, Husso emerged as a strong starter at the AHL level on a very poor San Antonio team. In an odd situation (The Blues and Avalanche shared the AHL team this season), Husso settled in and played some strong hockey, improving on his impressive rookie year in 2016-17.
In 38 appearances for the Rampage, Husso went 15-14-0 with a .922 SV% and a 2.42 GAA. This was on the heels of a rookie season in 2016-17 with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves (STL’s affiliate at the tine) in which he played 22 games and went 13-6-0 with a .920 SV% and a 2.37 GAA.
He’s already a quality goaltender at the AHL level, and is only going to get better with more experience in the top-tier of the minor leagues. He’s earned an NHL shot this coming fall.
Here’s a scouting update on Husso from Dobber Prospects that comes from March.
Ville Husso has had a season that any team would dream from their goalie prospect. Having played 35 games in the AHL so far this season, Husso sits near the top of the American League in save percentage with a .927 along with a 2.31 GAA. Sure some statistics rely on the players in front of him but Husso has made major strides in his overall game. The 23-year-old also has four shutouts on the year. His first season in North America had a number of bumpy periods while 2017-18 has seen him take command of games more often than not. – Josh Epstein
Where Would He Play/Where Should He Play?:
It’s up for debate as to where Husso should play. Some would argue that he needs a third season of AHL seasoning, while some would say he is ready to tryout for a backup job in the NHL. I think he could fill either role next season, and think he’s ready for the NHL.
In Edmonton, he’d likely compete with Al Montoya from the backup job behind Talbot. In the event he wasn’t ready, Husso could take the reigns in Bakersfield for at least the first part of the 2018-19 season before making his way to Edmonton. In all likelihood, however, he’d be Edmonton’s backup if acquired.
What Will He Cost?:
This is a really good question. Husso has one year remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $925,000 including bonuses. After that, Husso will be an RFA and remain under team control, so he’s more than a one year solution if acquired.
His strong numbers in the AHL, high potential level and team control make him a valuable trade piece for the Blues. I’m not sure Edmonton has the roster pieces to get this deal done, unless the Blues like Drake Caggiula and would take him along with, say, a fifth round draft choice in June. Even then, I’m not sure it is enough heading to St. Louis.
Ville Husso hasn’t emerged as a quality NHL goaltender just yet, but he’s proving himself at the AHL level and looks like he is on the cusp of arriving in the world’s best hockey league. Not only could he be a backup option next season, but he could be a starting option moving forward. Edmonton doesn’t have many of those.
If Peter Chiarelli wants to get really creative with the goaltending position this summer and give himself cover in case contract negotiations with Talbot go sideways, making a call on Husso would be a good idea.