Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Former Badger Elliot tearing up NHL

By Nicole
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It's not an exaggeration to call the University of Wisconsin NHL University. There are 20 former Badgers currently skating in the NHL. 11 former Badgers played in last season's playoffs - more than any other college.

One of the Badgers who has struggled to gain a foothold is former goalie and Hobey Baker finalist Brian Elliot. Drafted by Ottawa, he had a few chances, but never really earned the starting job. He was traded to Phoenix, but really struggled late in the season.

Heading into this season he was an unrestricted free agent. He was offered a one-year, two-way contract by the Blues. Taking it was a risk for Elliot, but he worked hard, won the starting spot and now is leading the NHL in many statistical categories.

He leads the league in the three major goaltending categories — goals-against average (1.43), save percentage (.948) and shutouts (four). The next closest in GAA is .4 back. Elliot's killing it this season.

This is all while he's earning just $600,000 this season and had the risk of being sent down after camp and earning just $105,000 while playing in the AHL.

Elliot wasn't recruited for college and wasn't initially entered in the NHL draft. The Badgers were looking to have Mike Brodeur come in as a goalie, but he lost his college eligibility and were kind of scrambling. In a case of "knows a guy who knows a guy," as well as some luck, Elliot met with Mike Eaves and became a Badger recruit. It didn't hurt that Brian's dad is a TV director and had been making tapes of his son for years.

Elliot went on to be one of the best Badger goalies in recent history, leading the team to the 2006 National Championship and a top-3 finish for that years Hobey Baker.

Here's hoping this isn't a fluke for Elliot and he can really find himself a home with the Blues. They seem to have bought in to him completely and they don't think his performance is a fluke.

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