With NHL free agency officially starting on July 1st, teams only have 12 more days to resign their players before they are open to bids from other teams. In the next 12 days, we will look through the unrestricted free agents the Columbus Blue Jackets have this year, and preview what we could expect once free agency starts.
Today we will take a look at CBJ goaltender Curtis McElhinney.
2013 Cap Hit: $600,000
2013-14 Stats: McElhinney started 21 games and played in 28 this season, and had a goals against average of 2.70 and a .909 save percentage. He had two shutouts and 10 wins on the season, losing 11 in regulation and one in overtime.
Summary: As compared to Jackets’ leading goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky‘s $5,625,000 cap hit and $5,000,000 salary, Curtis McElhinney is a good deal. Only $600,000 for the backup goaltender, and a solid one at that. Goals against average under three and a save percentage in the 90s is pretty good for a backup. If the Jackets do resign him, they will probably have to offer him a bit more money, but probably not much more.When Bobrovsky suffered a groin injury this season, many Jackets fans (myself included) prepared for the worst. McElhinney proved himself, though. He was a solid presence in net during Bobrovsky’s injury, only yielding three starts to backup Mike McKenna and only being pulled once.
Even if McElhinney’s numbers were worse than they are, the Jackets really don’t have anyone to fall back on. They have Mike McKenna down in Springfield, but he’s not a suitable backup goaltender for Bobrovsky. At least not yet. They have a few other goalies in the organization and minors, but none of them have enough NHL experience to be Bob’s backup.
For all those reasons, I see the Jackets resigning McElhinney, and quickly. I doubt they’ll even let him test out the free agency market, because goalies have been pretty valuable lately, and there may be some openings around the league. But I don’t think it will come to that. I predict we’ll see the Jackets make a reasonable offer to McElhinney sometime soon.