Anaheim acquires Dan Ellis from Tampa Bay for Curtis McElhinney in goalie trade

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks exchanged goalies today in a trade that sent Dan Ellis to the California in exchange for Curtis McElhinney.

Although Ellis experienced some growing pains as he tried (and ultimately failed) to win the starting job in Tampa Bay, it seems like a “win” on paper for the Ducks. Especially if the Ellis acquisition was made mandatory by growing concerns about Jonas Hiller’s health.

Yet it’s important to look at this deal beyond the “on paper” value, although perhaps it’s just a matter of what type of paper you’re looking at. When it comes down to money, the Lightning essentially cleared Ellis off the cap for the 2011-12 season (he’ll make $2 million in salary and will be a $1.5 million cap hit) since Curtis McElhinney’s $535K per season expires in July. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman decided that Ellis won’t be a part of their starting rotation in the future, so he gave the team flexibility to sign another goalie (or two) this summer while adding flexibility to sign Steven Stamkos to a restricted free agent deal.

As if it wasn’t obvious already, this solidifies the fact that Dwayne Roloson will be Tampa’s go-to goalie for the rest of the season, barring another move. The aging veteran also has a contract that will expire this season, indicating that the Lightning might be a big player in the free agent goalie market in July (Tomas Vokoun, anyone?).

McElhinney is 6-9-1 with a 89 save percentage and 3.43 goals against average in 21 games played for the Ducks this season. Ellis is 13-7-6 with an 88.9 save percentage and 2.93 GAA in 31 appearances for the Lightning in 10-11. Yet it’s overall NHL experience where Ellis trumps McElhinney, as the former Predators backup has 63 career wins compared to only 15 for McElhinney.

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