This news comes in the wake of Scott Darling’s early exit in Sunday’s preseason finale against the Nashville Predators due to a “lower-body injury”. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour later confirmed that it was a hamstring injury.
While team majority owner Tom Dundon said on Monday that Darling’s injury is “not catastrophic”, we did discover on Tuesday, after the Hurricanes’ morning practice, that it will force him to miss a “couple of weeks”.
Carolina’s front office had a couple of options - call up young Alex Nedeljkovic from the Checkers to play the role of backup behind Petr Mrazek or look outside the organization. The Canes did the latter.
McElhinney is a veteran goalie who has spent the last two seasons with the Maple Leafs. In 39 appearance since the start of the 2016-17 season, he has .925 save percentage. Since his NHL debut in the 2007-08 season, he has a .909 save percentage in 186 appearances.
The 35-year-old netminder was put on waivers with the intent to send him to the Marlies of the AHL. The Maple Leafs’ goalie depth is touted as maybe the best in the league. Unfortunately for them, they lost both McElhinney and Calvin Pickard (claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers) due to the waiver system on Tuesday.
The injury to Darling comes at a very inopportune time. The now second-year Carolina goalie had an excellent preseason after staying in Raleigh throughout the summer to train with the team’s head strength and conditioning coach Bill Burniston.
He appeared ready to have a big bounce-back season in 2018-19 and, while he still might do just that, it’ll have to wait a couple of weeks. This is another unfortunate roadblock for Darling.
For now, though, the Hurricanes will enter the season with Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney as their goalie tandem. Mrazek will, presumably, get the opening night start.
The official release from the team and is below:
RALEIGH, NC - Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has claimed goaltender Curtis McElhinney on waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
”Curtis is a proven NHL goaltender,” said Waddell. ”Scott Darling is dealing with an injury and we see this as an opportunity to solidify our depth at the position.”
McElhinney, 35, appeared in 18 games for Toronto in 2017-18, registering an 11-5-1 record, 2.15 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and three shutouts. He represented Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Championship, appearing in five games with a 3-2 record, 1.48 GAA, .936 save percentage and one shutout.
The 6’2”, 203-pound netminder was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round (176th overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft. The London, Ontario, native has appeared in 186 career NHL games with Calgary, Anaheim, Ottawa, Arizona, Columbus and Toronto, recording a 62-71-13 record, 2.86 GAA, .909 save percentage and eight shutouts. McElhinney played four seasons of NCAA hockey with Colorado College from 2001-05, where he posted a 62-16-8 record and was twice named an All-American. He has also appeared in 205 career AHL games with Omaha, Quad City, Portland and Springfield, and was named to the AHL All-Star Game in 2007 and 2013.