When Ken Holland goes to market this summer looking for a goaltender to work with Mikko Koskinen, he could be looking for a reclamation project that comes relatively cheap. After all, the Oil will be on a budget and will need to make some additions to their forward group if they hope to compete next season.
If you’re looking for a bit of a bargain, you’re likely not going to come away with a sexy name. Pending UFA Brian Elliott built quite the resume with the St. Louis Blues, but he’s struggled at times over the last three seasons in both Calgary and Philadelphia.
Elliott will hit the free agent market this summer flying under the radar, and could come to Edmonton at a fair price and provide cover should Koskinen falter in his second season.
Why Is He Out There?:
Elliott signed with the Flyers in July of 2017 with the hope of settling down a position of weakness in Philadelphia. After a strong career with the Blues, Elliott was trying to rebound off of a season in Calgary which featured a .910 save percentage but numerous rough stretches and a horrible playoff performance.
The results in year one weren’t bad. Elliott went 23-11-7 in 43 appearances and posted a .909 save percentage in Philly. That was good enough to get the Flyers into the playoffs, but once again Elliott struggled mightily in the postseason. Elliott posted an .856 save percentage and lasted only four games in the six game series.
He spent most of this past season injured, appearing in only 26 games, and spent time in the AHL for the first time since 2012-13. Elliott went 11-11-1 for the Flyers this season with a .907 save percentage, but has lost the starting job to Carter Hart.
He’ll hit the free agent market looking for a team that can either offer him a starting job or, more likely, a 1A/1B situation in net.
What Does He Do Well?:
When in St. Louis, Elliott was one of the better netminders in the NHL. Over the course of five seasons with the Blues, Elliott posted a .925 save percentage and led the Blues to the playoffs in four of those seasons.
He received Hart Trophy votes as NHL MVP in 2012 for a season that saw him go 23-10-4 with a .940 save percentage over the course of 38 games, and received Vezina votes in both that season and the 2015-16 campaign. Elliott, along with Jaroslav Halak, took home the Jennings Award in 2011-12 as well.
The thing with Elliott is, however, he’s never handled a workload that one would associate with a bonafide number one goaltender. In Elliott’s best seasons, he’s played between 35-50 games. His sweet spot is the workload of a timeshare goalie, which makes him even more appealing to Edmonton.
In the end, Elliott is at his best when the team in front of him is a strong defensive group and doesn’t bleed high danger chances. Ken Hitchcock’s Blues teams were a perfect fit for Elliott, while a loose Flyers group has not been an ideal fit. Even then, Elliott has provided somewhat average goaltending and is still a viable option for NHL work.
Here’s a look at his scouting report via The Sports Forecaster.
A long-limbed butterfly goalie who covers a lot of area, he is quick on his skates and takes good angles. He’s calm, efficient and mature in the crease. Can go on prolonged hot streaks. Lacks consistency and tends to run cold at critical times. Not very pro-active with his stick, he also isn’t very proficient at handling the puck. Does not challenge shooters enough. Long Range Potential: Solid, veteran goaltender.
Where Will He Play / Where Should He Play?:
As mentioned above, Elliott is at his best when he is playing somewhere around 40/45 games a season. He’s best suited to be a 1A/1B kind of goaltender and ideally that’s the role he plays. In Edmonton, that’s exactly what he would be, sharing the net with Koskinen.
What Will He Cost?:
Elliott is coming off of a contract with the Flyers that was a two-year deal worth $5,500,000. That contract carried an AAV of $2,750,000, not bad for what Elliott provided Philadelphia all things considered.
I think that term is about what Elliott can expect on the market this time around as well. Would a two-year deal at, say, $3,150,000 be acceptable? I think that is likely what it takes to get him to Northern Alberta this summer.
Hitchcock coached Elliott in St. Louis and would have a good read on the veteran netminder. Although he is no longer coaching the Oilers, Hitchcock is sticking around to advice Holland for the time being and could campaign for Elliott this summer.
He’s not the sexy name that will make Oiler fans jump, but Elliott could come to Northern Alberta and give the Oilers exactly what they are looking for at a very fair price. He could be that 1A/1B goalie the team desperately needs alongside Koskinen and he brings with him the potential to carry a team when he gets hot.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Holland made a call to Elliott’s agent should he hit the market in late June when the negotiating period opens up.