We need to talk about Curtis McElhinney’s season, because if you told me in October that he’d finish the season as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, I’m pretty sure that I would be shocked.
The team went into October with a bit of uncertainty surrounding their backup goalie. Sure, they had Garret Sparks waiting in the wings down the street at Ricoh, but I don’t think stunting his growth and having him suit up in 15 NHL games behind Frederik Andersen would have been the best move. It turned out the team felt the same way, going as far as to trade Tobias Lindberg and a 2016 6th-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Calvin Pickard.
18GP, .934SV%, .949EvSV%
Not sure what’s more unbelievable; the fact that Curtis McElhinney led all goalies (min. 15GP) in even strength save percentage last season, or the fact that he actually stuck around and got into 18 games for a Leafs team that eventually made the playoffs. In addition to being great at 5v5 this year, he ALSO LED ALL GOALIES WITH A 91.04 HIGH DANGER SAVE PERCENTAGE AS WELL. Seriously, who is this man?
Fuck it, I’m going with an A. McElhinney turned out to be…Actually Good as a backup this year! I don’t think you could ask for your backup to be any better than he was for the team. The Leafs traded for a goalie and had another on the Marlies and he still turned in a great year with all of that heat on his ass. Leafs fans were traumatized last season almost every game he appeared in (save for one), and he went from “oh no, not that guy!” to literally the only McJesus in the league.
These were just two saves in a 41 save shutout against the Oilers on December 12th. I mean, it’s the Oilers and a W against them should probably only count as a single point in the standings, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
On March 3rd, 2010, the Calgary Flames traded McElhinney to the Anaheim Ducks straight up for Leafs legend Vesa Toskala. I love when our heroes cross paths.
Curtis McElhinney has one year left on his deal at 850k. He did a tremendous job this year backing up Andersen to the point where I think he should have gotten more games. That being said, the Marlies boast a star goaltending tandem in Pickard and Sparks, and I’m thinking that maybe it’s time one of them makes the jump. The Leafs have an above average starter and three NHL-calibre backups in their system, so one of them will be the odd man out. Not a bad problem to have.