Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook: The Magic Number for Blues' Binnington: 28 Games

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook: The Magic Number for Blues' Binnington: 28 Games

Article excerpt

Numbers are very important this time of year in the NHL. How many points does a team have in the standings? How many games are left in the regular season?

And for Jordan Binnington: How many games has he played this season for the Blues?

"Is it 28?" Binnington said. "I actually don't know the exact number, but it's coming up here."

That's not the number of games Binnington has played.

But it's the number of games played that will determine whether he's a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent after this season.

It's called Group VI free agency according to the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, the details of which are unimportant here other than the magic number of 28. Because as a restricted free agent, the Blues can pretty much control where Binnington plays next season. As an unrestricted free agent, they can't.

Thursday's contest with the Detroit Red Wings was Binnington's 26th of the season -- encompassing 24 starts and two games in relief of Jake Allen (in December) .

(Under the terms of the CBA, those two relief appearances count toward the 28 since Binnington played at least 30 minutes in both games.)

So with eight games left in the regular season, Binnington will become a restricted free agent if he starts or plays 30 minutes in two more games. That should be a certainty, barring injury, given Binnington's level of play this season.

Given his level of play, he will get Calder Trophy votes as the rookie of the year even though he didn't make his first NHL start until January. And given his level of play, Binnington undoubtedly would be a hot commodity if he somehow fell short of the 28-game threshhold and became an unrestricted free agent in July.

"Whatever happens is meant to be, is the way I look at it," Binnington said. "I'm happy here. I like this group. I'm excited for where we're at. I'm just kind of living day by day and in the moment. …

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