Friday, August 2, 2019

Curtis McElhinney Autographed Card

Curtis McElhinney is the epitome of a journeyman goaltender; when he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 1st, the Bolts became his eighth NHL team since first suiting up in 2007-08 with the Calgary Flames.

He's also played for (in order of most recent) the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, and Anaheim Ducks.

And yet, my first thought when he signed wasn't about potential McElhinney fans and family having to shell out money for yet another jersey with his name on the back but more about how many teams missed their opportunity to improve themselves by adding him this summer.

The Coyotes and Ducks are set in nets, but the Canes could have used him again, as could the Leafs and Flames - he'd be better options than those currently slotted in the #2 spot on all three teams; he'd be a known quantity that's safer than the unknowns for both the Jackets and Sens; he'd be a better option for teams like the Montréal Canadiens, and a team like the Florida Panthers, having just moved on from both Roberto Luongo and James Reimer and signed Sergei Bobrovsky, could have left youngster Samuel Montembeault acquire some reps in the AHL instead of sitting on a NHL bench until the team's 2019 first-round draft pick Spencer Knight is himself ready to surpass him.

Why him, you might ask if you aren't of the hockey nerd brethren? Well, he just finished the playoffs with a .930 save percentage and 2.30 GAA on a Canes team that surprisingly reached the semi-final; before that, he'd posted an 11-5-1 record, .934 save percentage and 2.14 GAA in 18 games in Toronto, and save for a poor 2015-16 in Columbus, had some of the best backup stats in the entire NHL since the 2011-12 season (granted he only played two games that year).

Here he is with the Flames, on card #31 from Upper Deck's 2007-08 Rookie Boxed Set / Rookie Class set:
He was already 24 when he posed for that picture in Calgary's red (now-home) uniform. He signed the card in blue sharpie while playing for the Leafs, so between 2016 and 2018.

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