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.