Blues backup battle will come down to Ben Bishop vs. Brian Elliott

For better or worse, former Montreal Canadiens one-time playoff hero Jaroslav Halak represents at least the short-term future of goaltending for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues’ hopes for a return to credibility rest largely on the Slovakian netminder’s shoulders.

Even with Halak firmly planted in the No. 1 role, it’s likely that the Blues will lean on its backup quite a bit too. Halak only played in 57 games in 2010-11, which represented a career-high. He struggled with injuries and inconsistency at times so maybe he can flirt with the 65 GP mark next season, but chances are that the No. 2 job will get some play in St. Louis.

With that in mind, the question is: who will it be? The Blues allowed former backup Ty Conklin to leave via free agency after his play flat-lined during an abysmal 2010-11 season. St. Louis is then left with a choice: over-sized prospect Ben Bishop or flawed but more experienced free agent addition Brian Elliott.

One of the most interesting things about this situation is that their goalie competition is on an even playing field, as Jeremy Rutherford discussed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Blues signed Elliott to a two-way contract that will pay him $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL. Four days later, the team re-signed Bishop, then a restricted free-agent, to an identical contract. That sets up a situation that couldn’t be any more even heading into training camp in September.

“Two guys, both making the same amount of money, looking for the same job,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said recently.

Rutherford points out an interesting fact: this won’t be the first time the two goalies have battled eahc other. Elliott (then a junior at the University of Wisconsin) faced off against Bishop (then a freshman at Maine) in the 2006 Frozen Four, with Elliott’s Badgers earning a 5-2 win and then eventually a national championship.

Elliott had the experience edge then and he’ll have it now. He’s played in 142 NHL regular season games, going 61-53-16 with a .901 save percentage and 2.90 GAA. Elliott made one playoff appearance in which the Pittsburgh Penguins dismantled him in four games, forcing the Senators to turn to Pascal Leclaire.

Bishop’s NHL resume is scarce, with 13 games played during the last two seasons. He went 4-5-1 with an even more mediocre .896 and 2.83 GAA, although Rutherford makes a case for why he might have shown glimpses of promise.

In seven games with the Blues last season, when Halak had an injured hand, Bishop was 3-4 with a 2.76 goals-against average and an .899 save-percentage. But not told in those numbers is that after playing in Peoria until mid-February, Bishop joined the Blues and didn’t allow a goal in nine of his first 10 periods, including a 39-save shutout Feb. 5 against Edmonton. Of the 17 goals he permitted, nine were scored in two periods.

Considering Halak’s lack of a track record in carrying a big starting goalie workload, it’s likely that the Blues will need some solid play from their backup next season. The Elliott vs. Bishop training camp battle should be interesting to watch, although with both goalies under two-way contracts, that battle might extend far beyond September.

The Blues wouldn’t mind if it was still a question being asked beyond mid-April, either.

WATCH LIVE: 2017 NHL Draft – the first round

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Will the New Jersey Devils select Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick with the first overall pick? Could another team swoop in and trade for a high choice, whether it be from the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, or someone else?

On a day of huge, often shocking trades, the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft still has potential to bring more twists and turns.

You can watch another important night in the NHL unfold on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Also, check out PHT’s draft tracker here. Note the current order of selections below.

PHT’s 2017 NHL Draft Tracker

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From the United Center in Chicago, it’s the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft!

Click back here throughout the night for all the latest picks, complete with draft profiles, stories and video from tonight’s broadcast on NBCSN.

1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. New York Rangers (from Arizona)
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NY Islanders)
16. Calgary Flames
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Boston Bruins
19. San Jose Sharks
20. St. Louis Blues
21. New York Rangers
22. Edmonton Oilers
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota)
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus via Vegas)
25. Montreal Canadiens
26. Chicago Blackhawks
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington)
28. Ottawa Senators
29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim)
30. Nashville Predators
31. Pittsburgh Penguins

Capitals re-sign Oshie for eight years, $46 million

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T.J. Oshie will be staying with the Washington Capitals for a very, very long time.

The team announced on Friday evening that it has signed the veteran forward to an eight-year contract that will pay him an average annual salary of $5.75 million.

That comes out to a total dollar amount of $46 million.

“T.J. is an invaluable member of our team and we felt it was imperative for us to re-sign him in a competitive free agent market,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement released by the team. “T.J. is a highly competitive player with a tremendous skill set; he epitomizes the kind of player our team must have in order for us to continue to put ourselves in a position to compete in this League.”

Oshie is coming off of a career year for the Capitals that saw him score 33 goals to go with 28 assists in only 68 games.

While the team is almost certainly ecstatic to bring him back (and better off in the short-term), that eight-year commitment could be a risky one long-term. While Oshie is still a top-line player and was one of the most productive forwards in the league this past season, he is also already 30 years old. Giving that much term to a player that has already celebrated his 30th birthday usually ends up becoming an issue before the contract expires. But that is still pretty far down the road, and the Capitals are a better team in the short-term with him back in the mix. If he proves to be an essential ingredient in maybe bringing a Stanley Cup to Washington, they certainly won’t complain about maybe having to deal with a bad contract in five or six years.

In two years with the Capitals he has 59 goals and 48 assists (107 points) in 148 games.

His re-signing with the Capitals also puts a pretty significant dent in the upcoming free agent class as Oshie was looking to be one of the most sought after players on the open market.

On Friday, shortly after the Blackhawks overhauled their roster, there was speculation they might make a run at him as a potential Artemi Panarin replacement. Obviously, they will have to now look elsewhere. With Oshie no longer available the biggest names that could be available would be Alexander Radulov (assuming he and the Montreal Canadiens can not come to terms) or Ilya Kovalchuk (if he makes a return to the NHL).

Barroway doing ‘what’s right’ for Coyotes

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CHICAGO — If it wasn’t clear that Andrew Barroway is running the show in Arizona, it sure is now.

Since Barroway bought out his minority partners earlier this month, the Coyotes have cut ties with captain Shane Doan, traded goalie Mike Smith, and parted ways with head coach Dave Tippett.

That is no coincidence. Doan, Smith, and Tippett were the old guard, and Barroway wants to chart a new path.

For the breakup with Tippett, Barroway cited “philosophical differences on how to build” the team.

“I mean, he’s 100 percent owner,” GM John Chayka said Friday before the NHL Entry Draft. “Usually those guys do have some influence. … I think he’s trying to do what’s right for the organization moving forward. He wants to help find us an arena and keep us (in Arizona) long term. He wants to help us build a team. He’s invested emotionally, financially, everything. I respect that about him.”

Read more: ‘It was the owner’s decision’

But the shakeup hasn’t been easy on Chayka, who now has to find a new head coach, in addition to everything else on his plate.

“I’m 24 hours past Dave Tippett, and he’s a tough guy to get over,” said Chayka. “I’m focused on picking the best player tonight, then going from there.”

The Coyotes have the 23rd overall pick tonight. That was the selection they got from Minnesota in the Martin Hanzal trade. Arizona’s pick, the seventh overall selection, went to the Rangers in today’s Derek Stepan trade.

Hectic times for the Desert Dogs.

Related: Coyotes acquire Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago