If you are keen follower of Carolina Hurricane news, you likely noticed earlier today the Canes recalled Scott Darling from his AHL conditioning stint. This really isn’t anything that any of us should care a great deal about except for the fact that it will give Carolina three goaltenders, and generally speaking, teams don’t carry three goaltenders for too long. That’s where we get to our important question of
How Does This Affect The Maple Leafs?
Well, the Canes have Curtis McElhinney. A goaltender that the Leafs have a priority claim to on waivers, and with that claim would have the ability to assign to the AHL if they wish. McElhinney’s also a goaltender that up until the beginning of October the Canes had no real attachment to, and a goaltender who hasn’t really done a whole lot for them lately after a nice debut.
Though neither of their current goaltenders has done a whole lot for them this season, despite their winning record…
Mrazek has produced three quality starts out of five compared to McElhinney’s 1 out of 4 record, so early signs point to him being the odd man out. Though that’s still not far off the 35% quality start record Darling had last season, and now he’s just had to rehab an injury and will also be adjusting to new equipment. To put it simply the Canes goaltending is pretty bad. They may wish to give Darling a few starts before they determine who they want to move on from.
What Are The Canes Options?
- Waive McElhinney: In this situation the Leafs would have waivers priority, and could place him in the AHL. His poor start to the season might put a damper on the expectations of the 35 year old goaltender, but he’d be a familiar option to the Leafs in the organization, and he’s an injury replacement for Kaskisuo that seems more appealing than McAdam or Glass.
If the Canes have any reason to believe they want to keep him around, they’ll hold off on waiving him and perhaps consider one of the next options instead.
- Keep All Three Goaltenders: This is probably a short term fix, but one they could explore because they have no reason to have any confidence in any of their goaltenders at this point. Their best option seems to be Mrazek at this point, and ultimately it’s hard to believe that Darling has figured himself out, so if he absolutely tanks they might prefer to demote him, awful contract and all.
- Waive Mrazek: This seems to be the least likely option, but if they are only wanting to keep two goaltenders, the higher price tag on Mrazek and the fact that their isn’t a team that can place him in the AHL as an option might mean he draws the short straw at least until the Canes figure out what they have in Darling, which probably isn’t much.
- The Canes Upgrade Their Goaltending: The Canes may choose to move on from all the options as potential starters and make a trade. This seems very unlikely, especially since it’s the NHL and you’re not allowed to do interesting things to improve your team, especially in season. In this case they may decide that McElhinney is best backup option due to cheapness.
So Basically we’re just speculating on if McElhinney will be waived, right?
Yep. Sorry for trying to make this more interesting than it is. The Leafs are looking to potentially re-acquire a third string goaltender who will be their AHL starter for the foreseeable future. That’s not really interesting at all.
We could debate if it’s even worth bringing McElhinney back given that he’s not doing well, isn’t going to fit into future plans, and there are plenty of other dime a dozen goaltender options to explore, but at the end of the day familiarity isn’t something that teams dismiss, and if he’s comfort food for Babcock if one of his NHL goaltenders is hurt or if Sparks doesn’t pan out, than I guess McElhinney it is then.
Like I said, really exciting stuff.