Curtis McElhinney re-signed

Kent Wilson
June 06 2009 02:21PM

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Check another name off the free agent list. It was announced yesterday that Darryl Sutter has re-upped back-up Curtis McElhinney for another couple of years. Rumor is the contract runs for two years at just over 500k per year.

There was some question of whether the club would bother to ink the youngster after his lackluster season. None of his results inspire confidence - in 14 games played he managed a single win and had a GAA of 3.49 and a SV% of .889. That said, both sample size and sample type were an issue last year: Keenan played Curtis on the second nights of back-to-backs, on the road and in games where the Flames were already getting murded. Of the 14 games he appeared in, only 6 were actual starts. He played a grand total of 559 minutes. Kipper, in contrast, played 4, 418. To say the sample size is small is probably understating things.

McElhinney's history suggests he deserves another chance. In his pro debut, he managed a .912 SV% for a mediocre Omaha Knights club - same number as first rounder Leland Irving this past year in QC. Curtis went on to become the farm club's undisputed starter and an AHL all-star in '06-'07, where his .917 SV% placed him 10th overall in the league. Some notables that placed below him that year included Al Montoya (0.914), Jimmy Howard (0.911), Corey Crawford (0.909), Stephen Valiquette (0.909), Hannu Toivenen (0.909), Jeff Drouin-Deslaurier (0.908) and Karri Ramo (0.906).

In addition, the Flames have little chance of signing a significantly better player this off-season. Not only is their budget space limited, but most of the UFA options (Craig Anderson, Antero Niitymaki, Jason Labarbera, Scott Clemensen) would have little to no interest in backing up Kipper for 10 or so games. So beyond the fact that the kid probably deserves another shot to prove himself at the NHL level, the truth of the matter is the organization probably didn't have any better options anyways.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 Blazing Ace
June 06 2009, 03:40PM
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With the scraps of ice time that are available behind Kipper (who you have convinced me now needs to go) I'm afraid any up and comer with any shot of being a starter in the next 5 years will avoid the stunted development time he would get as a Flame.

Unless we draft some star, it's going to be a long road to develop a new starter in house with Kipper between the pipes.

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#2 Greg
June 06 2009, 04:29PM
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I can kind of guess Sutter's rationale here... outside of a career backup in his twilight years (i.e. McLennan), the only semi-established guys that would be happy signing to backup Kipper are guys Sutter doesn't want on his team. Still would have liked to have seen a Labarbera type guy come in and take 15 starts, but I guess that's wishful thinking given Sutter's mindset. Have to hope the cap savings are put to good use elsewhere...

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#3 Iggy12
June 08 2009, 08:40AM
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Greg wrote:

Have to hope the cap savings are put to good use elsewhere…

That's what I was thinking Greg. It's only really cap savings if they put it to good use. Otherwise it's just saving money on one player only to waste it elsewhere...

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#4 Jonathan Willis
June 08 2009, 09:20AM
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Two things:

1) So much for bringing in a goaltender who can challenge Kiprusoff; the Finn's play might improve if benching him was an option that the new coach might seriously consider.

and

2) Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is listed as a notable! Hah - he was almost as good in the AHL as Curtis McElhinney, a guy slated to be a starter... uh, any day now...

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#5 Kent
June 09 2009, 12:23PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Bringing in a goalie to challenge Kipper was a pipe dream. There's lots of available 'tenders, but the Flames don't have much cap space to play with. Besides, any goalie looking to challenge for the starters role is going to put the Flames on the bottom of their list.

The only thing that would cause Calgary to pursue a potential replacement n earnest is a Kipper long term injury.

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