The Anaheim Ducks made their move today, sending current starting goalie Curtis McElhinney to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for former starting goalie Dan Ellis. This move presumably shores up their netminding situation in the wake of four consecutive losses from McElhinney and a still-ailing Jonas Hiller.
Ellis comes to the Ducks following an up and down season.
He began the year vying to starts with incumbent starter Mike Smith and at times took the job over. He struggled mightily with his consistency, posting shutouts and then clunkers in consecutive starts. Both Ellis and Smith failed to take over between the pipes which forced GM Steve Yzerman to grab Dwayne Roloson and ride him like it was 2006-2007.
Now, back in the Western Conference, Ellis receives the chance to carry the team back into the playoffs. Hiller continues to struggle with vertigo while the team’s brass believe Ray Emery could use some more time playing with the Syracuse Crunch in order to better prepare himself for NHL duty. Clearly the job, similar to McElhinney between the pipes, is Ellis’s to lose.
If you are desperate for a starting goalie, by all means look to Ellis, even if the Ducks do allow the fourth most shots in the League.
In McElhinney, the Lightning get a plug– a guy who can fill the hole as they ride Roloson for all he has. At this point it does not seem clear whether the team even wants to keep him with their club or if they will demote him to the AHL. Earlier today they re-called Mike Smith from Norfolk but he will need to clear re-entry waivers in order to actually play for them. Sounds like they would prefer Smith to McElhinney and as goalie expert Justin Goldman points out, Roloson would do better with a backup who can challenge him.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle seems to feel McElhinney was too hard on himself which forced him to lose some decisions. Clearly, the 27-year-old looked over his head and is more comfortable in a backup role. On Tampa he should be just that, even if it means a backup on the Admirals.
By contrast, Ellis feels no ill will against his former team, essentially knowing that he lost his starting job with his inconsistent play. Hopefully a return to the West will help his confidence and grant him a change of scenery. Unfortunately, he no longer has guys like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter there to shelter him and will be in a similar situation in Anaheim– who similarly play more of a run-and-gun system than play tight defensively.
In summary… (line changes)
Ducks: Keep Emery up for the time being but prefer him in Syracuse for the time being. They also gain a former starting goalie with playoff experience.
Lightning: Finally eliminate the three-headed monster in somewhat of a lateral move.
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