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About Last Season: Curtis McElhinney Performance Review and Grade

An under-the-radar waiver claim in October turns into pure gold for the Hurricanes.

Jamie Kellner

Curtis McElhinney: 2018-2019 By The Numbers

  • Age: 35
  • NHL Seasons: 11
  • Games Played: 33
  • Record: 20-11-2
  • Key Statistics: 2.58 GAA, .912 save percentage, two shutouts

Making The Grade

Waiver claims are not typically worth revisiting in season recaps. Yet, for the 2018-2019 Carolina Hurricanes, the season really started with the acquisition of Curtis McElhinney.

Scott Darling, the presumed starting goaltender for the Canes, was injured in a preseason game about two weeks before the start of the season. It was assumed at the time that McElhinney, an 11-year veteran, would serve as a reliable stand-in until Darling could resume his place at the top of the depth chart.

Instead, McElhinney earned his spot on the roster and ended the Darling era in Raleigh. He got off to a hot start, winning his first three games, and seven of his first nine. By the end of November, Darling had been placed on waivers.

Mac - along with his teammates - hit a rough patch in December. He lost three straight starts and missed a couple weeks with an injury. However, he returned on New Year’s Eve. That game proved to be a turning point for both McElhinney and the Canes. He went 10-2 over his next 12 starts and posted two shutouts.

His mediocre 3-4-1 finish, along with Petr Mrazek’s hot play, meant that there was little controversy when Mrazek got the net for the Canes’ first nine playoff games. However, when Mrazek went down in the middle of Game 2 against the Islanders, McElhinney showed what he could do. The 17 save “shutout” sent the Canes back to Raleigh with a 2-0 series lead. It was Mac’s first-ever playoff victory and set the record for the oldest goaltender to record his first playoff win. He then went on to clinch the remaining two wins as the Canes completed the series sweep.

McElhinney posted career highs in games played (33), wins (20), and quality starts (17). He’ll enter the summer as an unrestricted free agent. Don Waddell has made it clear that he would like to re-sign both Mrazek and McElhinney. Yet, one has to wonder if that will happen. Mrazek is ten years younger than Mac and will presumably be the priority signing. Alex Nedeljkovic just won AHL goaltender of the year and led the Charlotte Checkers to a Calder Cup.

Whatever happens in free agency, the 2018-2019 season was a special one for Curtis McElhinney. A pro on and off the ice, he was asked to do a job on short notice and exceeded all expectations. In the final analysis, that October decision will go down as one of - if not the best ever - waiver claims in Canes’ history.

Exit Interview


How do you grade Curtis McElhinney’s 2018-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (273 votes)
  • 19%
    B - Above average performance
    (66 votes)
  • 0%
    C - Average performance
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    D - Below average performance
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (0 votes)
342 votes total Vote Now