It has been known for most of the offseason that the Montreal Canadiens are in the market for a new backup goaltender and Curtis McElhinney should be the one to fill that position.
Last season, the Montreal Canadiens lost easy games they should have won for multiple reasons. Some nights it was the defense, others the powerplay and on occasion the backup goaltending.
Former backup goaltender Antti Niemi had his moments when playing for the Habs, especially in 2017-18 but on many occasions during the 2018-19 season, he let the team down. It was not entirely his fault but we noticed him being unable to keep track of the puck and let in softer goals.
This is not a knock on Antti Niemi but the Canadiens cannot risk losing games they should have in the bag next season or else they could risk missing the playoffs for the third straight season.
At 36 years old, Curtis McElhinney had an exceptional season with the Carolina Hurricanes recording 20 wins with a .912 save percentage and two shutouts. If he is able to bring this type of play to the Montreal Canadiens, he’ll be able to steal some crucial wins for the team. More importantly, by performing at this level, McElhinney would allow for Carey Price to be well rested in every game he plays.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun also announced that the Montreal Canadiens were one of three teams showing interest in Curtis McElhinney so this could very much become a reality. We’ll know more of Marc Bergevin’s plan during Free Agency on Monday.
It’s not often we got to find out what Marc Bergevin is up, as evidenced by the surprising trade of Andrew Shaw last night. So, the fact we know that Montreal is involved in talks with McElhinney is a sign that talks must be very serious.
Why Not Charlie Lindgren?
It was a tough year for Charlie Lindgren when playing for the Laval Rocket with only 11 wins out of 37 games played, recording a .884% save percentage. Although he tends to play well in the NHL, he has yet to be tested out for long periods of time and with the playoffs on the line, looking towards are more experienced goaltender is the way to go.
Signing Curtis McElhinney would bring 13 years of NHL goaltending experience to the Montreal Canadiens, something Carey Price would surely appreciate and if the past two few seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina are any indication, he can still get the job done and be a steady backup.
Considering his age, a short-term deal would be best suited for both the Montreal Canadiens and Curtis McElhinney.