The Maple Leafs have been playing goalie musical chairs for a while. Frederik Andersen, Kari Ramo, Jeff Glass, Jhonas Enroth, Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau have all been a part of the franchise this year whether in the AHL or NHL.
Jeff Glass has been released from his PTO with the Marlies, Kari Ramo is injured, Bibeau has been alight Sparks is still down in the AHL, and Jhonas Enroth has been sent down as well at times.
Now, after being waived by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed goalie Curtis McElhinney.
McElhinney has seen action in seven games this season for the Blue Jackets with a .924 save % and a 2.39 gals against. The 33 year old goalie has 154 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets, Senators, Ducks, Flames, and Coyotes, with career averages of .905sv% and 2.96GAA with 4 shutouts.
While his numbers for this season are better than the back ups we currently have, will that continue? Will the Leafs systems and defence make him look better, or look worse?
He has faced a high shot count so far with the Jackets, and when he re-signed with Columbus in 2015, The Cannon had this to say about him:
There are obviously two sides on McElhinney. On one hand, he's a consummate pro and a good teammate. On this team, he knows his role will be to play once every six or seven games when Sergei Bobrovsky is healthy. He won't complain about that, whereas a younger backup might be looking to get more playing time and might cause issues in the dressing room. In addition, we've seen that, in small stretches, CMac is a solid backup. In addition, this contract is a pittance compared to what some of the other names on the market would cost, and if necessary it could be easily stashed in the AHL.
The other side of that coin is that he's been asked to play far more in each of his two seasons in Columbus than was anticipated. Bobrovsky has suffered significant groin injuries both years, and McElhinney averaged 30 games played in each of those seasons. That's too much to expect him to play and to be consistent. Bob's injury history is what it is--history--but it's very reasonable to expect that Bob won't be able to be the horse he was during his Vezina season in 2013.
Full stats via Hockey-Reference.com:
McElhinney’s contract is up after this season, and he’ll be a UFA.
Is Curtis the back up we need this season, or is he just another passenger on the goalie carousel? There are a lot of questions to this move, but for now he’s ours.