While he may not be the most exciting name on the Leafs roster, backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney has and will continue to play an important role. It’s not even an argument who the starter will be, but McElhinney is a seasoned veteran and a solid backup for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Curtis McElhinney
McElhinney, 34, has spent his career with six different organizations. He knows his role, and he plays it well. Spending his entire career as a backup, the most games he played in a single season was 32 in 2014-15 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
While his name isn’t a hot topic of discussion for Leafs fans, he is going to be playing an important role, being a reliable backup. No one should, or is likely going to, expect much more from McElhinney than to step in on back-to-backs and possible injury fill-ins.
Career to this Point
A seasoned, and well traveled, veteran backup, McElhinney has spent his now 10-year career with six different organizations. Originally drafted in the sixth round, 176th overall, of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, it took him a few years to get his first chance in the NHL.
Since getting his chance with the Flames, who he spent three seasons with, he has proven to be a very reliable backup. For example, the season he got his most games, 2014-15, he went 12-14-2 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.88 goals-against-average. While not eye-popping numbers, they are certainly not bad ones for a backup.
Over his career, McElhinney has been pretty well on par with the above numbers, posting a career record of 51-66-12 with a .905 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against-average. Much like his best season, this is nothing to write home about, but good enough to keep his teams in the games he steps in on.
McElhinney played in seven games for the Blue Jackets last season, going 2-1-2 with a .924 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against-average. A small sample size, but impressive numbers for a second string netminder.
Unfortunately for Toronto, he would regress back to career averages when he made the move back to Canada after being claimed off of waivers. He would appear in 14 games for the Leafs, going 6-7-0 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against-average.
If McElhinney can replicate his form from 2016-17 in 2017-18, there is every reason to believe that he will keep the backup job for the entire season.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 205 lbs
NHL Draft: Sixth Round, 176th Overall in 2002 by Calgary
Contract (via CapFriendly)
The contract of Curtis McElhinney’s is a relatively straightforward one for a career backup goaltender. The Leafs have him under contract for this upcoming season and the following, after signing a two-year contract on July 1. During that time, he will come with a cap hit of $850,000 per year, nothing to stress over.
The contract is, however, a one-way deal. If the Leafs feel compelled to send him to the minors in the next two seasons, this will free him up to be claimed off waivers by another team. Once again, this is unlikely to happen, but won’t be a huge issue if it does.
Much like he did last year with Columbus and the Leafs, McElhinney looks set to slot in as the backup to starting goaltender Frederik Andersen. Unless Curtis McElhinney’s play significantly drops off, he will stay as the second string netminder in 2017-18. Although Garret Sparks is waiting in the wings with stellar AHL numbers, his one extended NHL stint was lacklustre at best.
Of course, there is no chance McElhinney starts over Andersen, but it is almost equally as unlikely a chance that he finds himself out of the backup job to start the season.