1. Home
  2. News
  3. BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: From Adversity to Champion

BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: From Adversity to Champion

Friday, July 24th
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: From Adversity to Champion

BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: From Adversity to Champion

Blog #20 – July 23, 2020

by John Peterson

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

It’s the summer of 2011 and he just went 27-12-5 for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League as a 17-year-old. Sure his goals-against average was a hair north of 3.00 and his .899 save percentage could have been better. So the St. Louis Blues wait until the third round to select a medium-risk, high-reward goaltending prospect from Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

He improved his GAA to 2.99 and save percentage to .906 in 2011-12 for the Attack. That’s better. The team struggled a bit, but he still won 21 games this year. Unfortunately he got roughed up a bit in two playoff games. But the Blues AHL affiliate in Peoria isn't going to make the playoffs this year. Let’s give him a chance. He stops 35 of 38 shots on the road in front of 11,535 Chicago Wolves fans in his professional debut April 15, 2012, a 4-2 loss for the Rivermen.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

Just before turning 20 in 2013, he signs his first pro contract. After all, he put up a 32-12-6 mark in his final season with Owen Sound, winning the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year with a miniscule 2.17 GAA and lights out .932 save percentage. We’ll start him off up in Kalamazoo in the ECHL. He’s young and needs some time to develop. Standard stuff.

The tandem of he and Joel Martin combine for a 42-22-8 record. Binnington posts a 2.35 GAA and .922 save percentage as a rookie, going 23-13-3 for the K-Wings. He wins the ECHL Rookie of the Month award in December and earns an AHL call-up to Chicago, picking up his first win at that level in his only start for the Wolves.

THE NEXT STEP

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

After a tremendous season in the ECHL, it looks as if he’ll start 2014-15 in Chicago and should be an AHL regular this season. He’s progressing nicely, so we’ll see how the kid does playing against the top NHL prospects consistently. How does a 25-15-4 record sound with a matching 2.35 GAA like last season in Kalamazoo? A .916 save percentage too, including a .938 percentage in five playoff games? We’ll take it.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

He’s about to enter his third pro season and so far we’ve like what we’ve seen. Still, he’s only 22 and goalies usually take longer to develop before they’re NHL-ready. Plus, we (the Blues) have a rising star in 25-year-old Jake Allen, who just led us to home-ice advantage in the playoffs, along with another reliable starter in Brian Elliott. This is a good problem to have. Now we can keep Binnington and Pheonix Copley as a solid one-two punch in the AHL. Oh, and in January during a call-up to St. Louis to back up Elliott, we’ll put him in during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes for 12 minutes, 47 seconds. He stops three of four shots during an emergency NHL debut.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

It’s now the summer of 2016. His entry level contract is up and he is a restricted free agent. We’ve seen signs of great things, but he went 17-18-5 last season in the AHL with the Wolves. We can’t look into the future, but we’re pretty sure it will be the only “losing record” of his pro career. We extend a qualifying offer and he signs a one-year, two-way contract to stay in the Blues system for the 2016-17 season. Here’s the issue. We traded Elliott to Calgary for a second round and third round pick, but we signed Pekka Rinne’s backup, Carter Hutton in free agency. He’s going to backup Allen this year.

So we’re going to let Binnington excel in Chicago in a carousel of three talented goaltending prospects, which includes Copley and Finnish youngster Ville Husso. We really like the latter of the three, who is just 21 years old. But we’ll be satisfied with Binnington’s 16-7-3 showing in a slightly limited role given our strengthened AHL depth.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

Here is where things get a bit hairy. We sign him to another one-year, two-way contract as a restricted free agent. We know he is good and we’re not ready to give up on him just yet. But in training camp, we confirm that Allen and Hutton are the one-two NHL combo, Husso is the future, but Binnington had a great camp. Now for the pickle we’re in.

2017-18 is a transition year for our AHL affiliation. It is the final year we’re with Chicago, but the newly-formed Vegas Golden Knights have joined forces with the Wolves and hold the majority of the roster spots. We can’t send a goalie there. Next year we’ll be partnering exclusively with the San Antonio Rampage, but they’re still a part of the Colorado Avalanche system for now. Luckily, they’re letting us develop a goalie there. We choose Husso. Sorry, Binnington. You’re heading to our new ECHL affiliate in Tulsa.

It will be his first ECHL stint in four years, when he shined for the K-Wings in 2013-14. Wait a minute. He’s not going. We work to find another AHL team with an open roster spot at the goaltender position. Providence. So we loan him to the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. He proceeds to go 17-9-0 with a 2.05 GAA and .926 save percentage and is named to the AHL All-Star Game.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

One more one-year, two-way contract. He’s 25 now and he’ll either be an AHL regular for years to come, likely with another organization after this 2018-19 season, or he’ll get an opportunity to finally prove himself at the highest level. All our prospects are now in San Antonio and we’re excited to see the affiliation grow. Hutton is gone, having signed a nice contract with the Buffalo Sabres to take over the number one role there. But we inked free agent Chad Johnson to a contract and he’ll start in the NHL to back up Allen. Binnington will have to be the Rampage’s 1(b) to Husso’s 1(a), in layman’s terms.

The Blues have a horrendous start. Head Coach Mike Yeo is fired after 19 games and Craig Berube takes over. San Antonio isn’t faring much better. Husso went through a treacherous stretch in the first few months of the season, but Binnington is 11-4-0 with a 2.08 GAA and .927 save percentage. He grabs hold of the starting job with the Rampage and even appears in two games for St. Louis in relief of Allen during a December call-up. When sent back to San Antonio, he clears waivers.

But it’s January now and the Blues are in last place in the entire NHL. It’s time for a shake-up. If we send Johnson down, he’ll have to clear waivers, which is unlikely. This time we need someone to challenge Allen for the crease to lead us out of the cellar.

Johnson is sent down, but is claimed off of waivers by the Anaheim Ducks before he gets to San Antonio.

The date is January 5, 2019. Binnington is heading back to the show.

He’s making his first NHL start in two days.

STAYING POWER

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

To start things off, he blanks the Flyers 3-0 in Philadelphia behind 25 saves. Then he allows one goal in each of the next two games, both wins. How about this one? From January 23 through February 19 he doesn’t lose. He wins nine consecutive games, including three more shutouts.

He’s named NHL Rookie of the Month in February AND March, is named to the All-Rookie Team and leads St. Louis from the depths of the Western Conference into the playoffs with an astounding 24-5-1 record, a microscopic 1.89 GAA and a stellar .927 save percentage with five shutouts.

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

The Blues take care of the Winnipeg Jets in six games. They dispose of the Dallas Stars in seven thrilling contests. Finally they take out the San Jose Sharks in six games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The story is already as improbable as they come, but there’s work left to do. Binnington has started every game of the playoffs so far, but now the final hurdle is the mighty Boston Bruins. Remember when he backstopped the Bruins’ AHL affiliate last season?

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

Boston takes game one, but the Blues even the series heading back to St. Louis. He has is worst game of the series, allowing five goals in game three, but the team rallies in game four and steals game five back in Beantown. The Bruins force a seventh game, upsetting the potential party in St. Louis and the epic series heads back to Boston one last time.

Binnington is lights out in game seven as his team jumps out to a 2-0 lead, cruises to a 4-1 victory and hoists the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. The 26-year-old “rookie” who started the season in San Antonio and took over the starting job for a last place team has led the Blues to the promise land. In doing so, he sets a new NHL record for wins by a rookie goaltender in a single postseason, with 16.

He’s a restricted free agent again this summer, but teams will surely be willing to force the Blues’ hand this time around with offers. The question is, is half a season enough of a sample size to hand over the keys and pay him the big bucks?

Is Jordan Binnington good enough?

He signs a two-year, $8.8 million deal through the 2020-21 season and proceeds to follow up his remarkable season with a 30-13-7 record during a COVID-19 shortened season. The Blues are in first place at the time the season is suspended.

Next week, the Blues will begin a unique defense of their title as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in two Canadian hub cities. They have as good a chance as anyone to win it all again.

So I won’t ask the question anymore, and you shouldn’t either.

Yes, Jordan Binnington is good enough. He’s known it all along.

--

Bird’s-Eye View is a Kalamazoo Wings blog, written by the team’s Director of Public Relations/Broadcaster John Peterson twice weekly. The thoughts, opinions and behind-the-scenes stories are that of the writer alone and not a reflection of the organization as a whole. Fans are welcome to submit questions and ideas for future blog posts to jpeterson@kwings.com. Enjoy!

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Cincinnati Cyclones
Kalamazoo Wings
Saturday, October 19th
Cincinnati Cyclones @ Kalamazoo Wings
Puck Drops:
7:00 PM EDT
Wings Event Center
Cincinnati Cyclones
CIN Cincinnati Cyclones
at
Kalamazoo Wings
KAL Kalamazoo Wings
Wings Event Center
Cincinnati Cyclones
Kalamazoo Wings
Sunday, October 27th
Cincinnati Cyclones @ Kalamazoo Wings
Puck Drops:
3:00 PM EDT
Wings Event Center
Cincinnati Cyclones
CIN Cincinnati Cyclones
at
Kalamazoo Wings
KAL Kalamazoo Wings
Wings Event Center
Indy Fuel
Kalamazoo Wings
Friday, November 1st
Indy Fuel @ Kalamazoo Wings
Puck Drops:
7:00 PM EDT
Wings Event Center
Indy Fuel
IND Indy Fuel
at
Kalamazoo Wings
KAL Kalamazoo Wings
Wings Event Center

Latest News

More News
K-WINGS FORMER ASSISTANT BEN WILSON RETURNS TO CALGARY (WHL)
K-WINGS FORMER ASSISTANT BEN WILSON RETURNS TO CALGARY (WHL)
K-WINGS ANNOUNCE 2024-25 PROTECTED LIST
K-WINGS ANNOUNCE 2024-25 PROTECTED LIST
K-WINGS SET RECORD, EIGHT ECHL TEAM AWARD NOMINATIONS
K-WINGS SET RECORD, EIGHT ECHL TEAM AWARD NOMINATIONS

Get Hockey Updates

Sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to know about news and upcoming games!