The Tampa Bay Lightning emerged this morning as the surprise favorite to land veteran backup goalie Curtis McElhinney and a deal is now done. The team has announced a two-year contract with a $1.3MM AAV for the 35-year-old, strengthening their depth behind young starter Andrei Vasilevskiy.
However, the team was not expected to be in the running for a goalie, as Louis Domingue performed well last season and looked comfortable as the backup. While it’s possible that the team sees Domingue, signed through next season at $1.15MM, as better suited for a third-string role, The Athletic’s Joe Smith reports that Tampa will also work on trading the understudy.
In McElhinney, the Bolts add a backup who is an upgrade both statistically and in terms of experience. McElhinney appeared in 33 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season and made several more appearances in the postseason while posting strong numbers. Should injury befall Vasilevskiy, McElhinney would be ready to take over the starter role temporarily and Tampa Bay obviously felt more comfortable paying slightly more to have McElhinney in case of emergency rather than Domingue.