Jake Allen believes he is ready to be the St. Louis Blues' No. 1 goalie after spending the past two seasons in a time-share with Brian Elliott.
The Blues signed Allen to a four-year, $17.4 million contract extension on July 1, one week after they traded Elliott, 31, to the Calgary Flames, so the 25-year-old will get his first chance in the NHL to start 60-plus games in a season.
"It's going to be a challenge, no question, but I'm really looking forward to it," Allen told the Blues website Friday. "It's going to be a fun opportunity for me. I feel like I play my best when I'm playing all the time, get in the rhythm, get in the comfort zone, get in the groove, I guess. Me and Brian had a good thing going for two years. I'm definitely going to miss him. He brought a lot of success to our club. I wish him the best in Calgary."
Video: Jake Allen discusses new contract extension
Allen is 57-26-7 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 99 NHL regular-season games, all with the Blues, who selected him in the second round (No. 34) of the 2008 NHL Draft.
Though Allen started more regular-season games than Elliott last season (44-38), coach Ken Hitchcock chose to ride the hot hand in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, starting Elliott the first 17 postseason games and in 18 of 20 during the Blues' run to the Western Conference Final, where they lost to the San Jose Sharks in six games.
St. Louis signed 30-year-old Carter Hutton on July 1 to back up Allen. Hutton is 33-24-12 with a 2.56 GAA and .910 save percentage in 76 NHL regular-season games.
Allen said it will be different knowing the Blues net is his for the first time in his NHL career.
Video: SJS@STL, Gm5: Allen denies Couture on the doorstep
"It was tough to make mistakes when Brian was around, because one game you had a bad game, he was right back in the net, and vice versa with him and me," Allen said at his charity golf event in his hometown of Fredericton, New Brunswick. "You get a little bit more leeway now, I guess, but not a whole lot. Carter is a great goalie, and I've heard a lot of great things about him. … I'm just looking forward to the challenge."
Allen, signed through the 2020-21 season, said he'd like to play in St. Louis beyond the extension.
"I was drafted as a Blue when I was 17. Now, I'm there for five more years on top of that. I'll be 31, so 14 years with an organization, I'm real excited," he said. "I want to be a Blue. I want to retire a Blue, if that's possible. Five more years, it's great. … . I just feel so comfortable in St. Louis now. I really love the city. Something about it makes me feel at ease."