Early in the season, many fans thought the Hurricanes found a solution to their long-standing problem of acquiring a suitable back-up to Cam Ward in Dan Ellis. Originally signed to a professional tryout contract with the Charlotte Checkers, Ellis played tremendously during the NHL lockout and earned the back-up job in training camp. His performance in the first few months of the season were very good, as he got to start a handful of games and did a fine job in relief of Ward in a few games. As a back-up, Ellis did just about everything you could ask from a goaltender, but he was presented with a much bigger workload after Ward suffered a knee injury that would keep him out for the rest of the year. Ellis would have to go from being a back-up goalie to a 1 A/B type role and start more games than he was used to. His performance in this role can be divided into two parts.
Prior to Ward's injury, Ellis had a save percentage of .925 over six games and he ended the year with a save percentage of only .906, which is a little less than what you would expect from a typical back-up. Ellis definitely struggled in the latter half of the year, but he also went through some injury troubles of his own. Before the Hurricanes 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on March 21, Ellis posted a save percentage of .912 over six games after Ward's injury. Ellis himself also sustained an injury this game after cutting his leg open with his own skate blade and this would keep him out of action for two weeks. After he returned from the injury, he posted a save percentage of .887 in his final seven starts of the season. Prior to the that, his save percentage was .918 over 12 games.
It is my opinion that Ellis was not fully healthy after returning from injury because before that occurred, Ellis' performance was adequate and more than suitable for a back-up goaltender. If the Hurricanes are going to be searching for a #2 goalie this summer, going back to Ellis would not be a bad option. Justin Peters might be under contract, but he has not proven himself to be a capable NHL goaltender and with $6+ mil. invested in Ward, the Hurricanes don't have the cap space to spend friviously on this position. Since the Hurricanes haven't been able to develop a back-up goalie (yet), they will have to turn to free agency to find a back-up netminder and retaining Ellis seems like an easy thing to do for next year. How does he compare to other available back-ups, though?no comments