Columbus Blue Jackets Have Found Their Backup Goaltender

By Randy Holt
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets have one of the top goaltenders in the league, something that was established with Sergei Bobrovsky‘s Vezina Trophy candidacy following a brilliant 2013 season. But behind him, the situation isn’t as clear.

After stealing the job early on in the season, Bobrovsky spent most of the season playing in front of Steve Mason. Mason was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, the same team that the Blue Jackets acquired Bobrovsky from. That deal netted Michael Leighton, who took his place behind Bobrovsky.

But Leighton never saw a second of action for the Blue Jackets. In fact, he started only one game in all of 2013, which came way back in January 27th, when he was still a Flyer. If their latest move is any indication, the man pictured above will never see the ice with Columbus.

The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Curtis McElhinney to a one-year on Friday, though terms were not disclosed. After spending a season with the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, it appears that this is an NHL deal. Which puts McElhinney in line to back up Bobrovsky next season.

McElhinney has not appeared in an NHL game since the 2011-2012 season, when he appeared in only two, started just one of them. His last season in which he saw full backup duty was the 2010-11 season, when he started 22 games between two different clubs. A strong season in the AHL this season earned him a new backup job, playing behind one of the league’s best.

During the 2012-13 season, McElhinney lost just six games in regulation, finishing with a 29-6-3 record. He posted a 2.29 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, including a terrific nine shutouts in 49 games for the Springfield Falcons. While we won’t likely see McElhinney make too many starts as a backup next year, it’s pretty clear that this is their guy to play behind Bob next season.

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