Is Joel Hofer the St. Louis Blues’ next best goaltender?

Jordan Binnington was suspended for two games when he threw his tackle against Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman. In his absence, 22-year-old Joel Hofer has played so well for the St. Louis Blues that he earned a third straight start with the former Stanley Cup winner available. In Wednesday’s edition of Daily face-to-face live Hosts Tyler Yaremchuk and Mike McKenna have discussed how Hofer’s emergence is changing the Blues’ future in goal.

Tyler Yaremchuk: Let’s discover Joel Hofer in the fold of the Blues. Jordan Binnington is suspended for 2 games; this allows Hofer a chance to run with a few starts, and does he ever take advantage of it. Now through three games started this year in the NHL, Hofer has a 1.32 GAA and .959 save percentage, Mike. He’s 22 and an absolute monster at 6ft 5in, is Hofer the future of the Blues between the pipes?

Mike McKenna: Yeah he is, and Hofer has been that guy for a number of years and the Blues have been smart in how they’ve dealt with him. They allowed him to mature in the AHL, they didn’t force him to work, and that’s really why Thomas Greiss has a one-year layover. Hey, I’ve been there before, I’ve been the layover guy, I know that feeling.

The hope was that Hofer would go to Springfield in the AHL and have a good year. He did that. He was an All-Star this year, he has 4 assists and a .920 save percentage in this league this season. His American League career was about as good, he even scored a goal last year in the AHL playoffs.

I’m not surprised because Hofer plays with a ton of structure, Tyler. He is very good mechanically, he stays between his posts – at 6’5 it takes up a lot of space – and he handles the puck very well.

I can’t wait to see how it plays out over the next two seasons, as Hofer has a one-sided contract in the NHL for the next two years. The Blues are locked in and ready for the next two seasons with Binnington and Hofer; they have less than $7 million tied up in goalies this way. You just have to figure out if down the road Binnington can’t quite get back to where his game was before and now you have Hofer in the mix.

I think the Blues are very well placed here. They handled the development of Hofer very well. He does well, which doesn’t always happen. He has played excellently in his last three games with the Blues, even though they lost last night in a shootout to the Red Wings. In the previous two matches, he won. With a .959 save percentage so far, Tyler, there’s a reason this guy was in the cage for Canada at World Juniors before. You can see the talent.

Tyler Yaremchuk: You can 100% see the talent, and I love that you mentioned how they’re set up for the next two seasons with Hofer just $750,000 off the cap. With the cap going up to spend less than $7 million on your two goaltenders and having Binnington and Hofer there, I think things are going to really work out perfectly. They’re going to have two years to really get Hofer into the NHL lifestyle.

You don’t have to make a decision right away, it’s not like the Blues are going to come into this offseason and say ‘hey we have to leave Binnington’ or ‘we can’t sign him long term’. They locked him in for a decent price for a guy who’s proven he can start a lot of games in a season. This should allow them, Mike, to fit Hofer perfectly into the starting role and walk before he runs.

Mike McKenna: Great, this will allow Hofer to grow to the NHL level, but don’t be surprised if he lands that starting job. He was absolutely rock solid. Binngotn have had some great games this year, but haven’t had that level of consistency. The way Hofer plays is designed for consistency. I can’t wait to see how it plays out, but like you said, cost certainty is a very good thing for the St. Louis Blues.

You can watch the full episode here…

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