The Carolina Hurricanes have had trouble finding a true number one goaltender this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes have a great defense and as a result their goals against per game is 2.84 placing them at eleventh best in the league. It could be much higher however if the Hurricanes could find a true number one goaltender.
When they traded for Scott Darling and signed him to a fairly big extension, they had hoped he would fill that role immediately however he’s struggled to become a true starting net-minder and as a result he’s been up and down between the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers quite a bit as of late.
Hoping for Darling to rebound toward how he played in Chicago is the most simple solution, however every day that passes makes that less and less likely to happen. He’s already 29 years of age and as a bit of an odd story throughout his career, you never really know what will happen next with Darling.
Curtis McElhinney took over the starting role not long before his injury which is still keeping him sidelined to this day however he’s not a long term option even if he continues his great play after coming off the injured reserve. He’s been a career backup, falling out of favor for younger options in his last two stops. The Columbus Blue Jackets replaced him with Joonas Korpisalo while the Toronto Maple Leafs went forward with Garret Sparks.
That could very well happen to McElhinney again in Carolina, depending on Alex Nedeljkovic‘s development which seems like a bit of a question mark at this point in time. His save percentage with the Checkers isn’t good at all, at a .895 through 21 games however his goals against average isn’t that bad at 2.84. He has a really odd stat-line, likely due to the fact that he doesn’t face many shots.
Nedeljkovic had a solid season last year with the Checkers and at only 22 years old, he still has plenty of time to reach the NHL.
Petr Mrazek is having a rough season with a save percentage of .899 through 13 games, however with a record of 5-6-2 and a goal against average of 2.56 he’s been serviceable to say the least. He’s not going to be a star goaltender like many thought he’d be in Detroit early in his career, however at this point behind a solid starter he could be a good backup going forward.
Ideally for the Canes, Darling would regain his form from Chicago while Mrazek and McElhinney fight for the backup spot. After that Nedeljkovic would become the starting goaltender a few years down the road. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem as if that’ll be the case. Nedejkovic has a bright future, but the other three goaltenders are essentially wild cards on a day by day basis.
stats from hockey-reference.com