Flames Sens-ing a move?

The Flames might be interested in Martin Gerber if the Sens are willing to pick up half of what's...

The Flames might be interested in Martin Gerber if the Sens are willing to pick up half of what's left on his salary. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:12 PM ET

Many believe Curtis McElhinney is the Calgary Flames' goaltender of the future.

His patience may be tested as much as his skills if there's any truth to talk among hockey pundits at the NHL all-star game.

One of the things being discussed is the future of Ottawa Senators netminder Martin Gerber. He's been waived by the team and is expected to meet today with Sens GM Bryan Murray to figure out what happens next.

The Flames are rumoured to be considering bringing the veteran in as insurance in case workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff succumbs to a late-season injury.

According to a colleague in the nation's capital, the belief is the Flames might be interested if the Sens are willing to pick up half of the $1.5 million left on Gerber's salary.

It certainly makes sense.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter is always looking for ways to improve his team and wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't kick a few tires.

It was around this time of year last season the Flames brought in Curtis Joseph to backup Kiprusoff for the stretch run, sending McElhinney back to the minors.

McElhinney still hasn't won a game in the NHL -- not that the Flames have given him many opportunities.

The rookie has appeared in five contests this season, starting three of them. His best showing was against the Red Wings in Detroit, but he gave up a lead late and the Flames fell in overtime.

Losing badly in Denver a week before the all-star break was more a result of a tired team playing poorly in front of him, but it sure didn't elevate McElhinney's stock.

Compressed over the final few months, 36 games will test the Flames goaltending tandem.

Money is probably the biggest obstacle if the Flames decide the more-experienced Gerber is an upgrade.

With little room to spare under the $56.7-million ceiling and a move or two undoubtedly on Sutter's agenda before the March 4 trade deadline, picking Gerber up on re-entry waivers would be the best scenario because the Sens would be on the hook for $750,000 of Gerber's remaining salary. But there are no guarantees another team wouldn't grab him first.

Trading for a goalie whose best days are behind him -- and whose current team has given up on -- would be foolish.

Paying nothing for Joseph as an unrestricted free agent last year made the move a no-brainer.

Sutter will likely think on this one and explore many other options.

One option is sticking with McElhinney.

The Calgarian is set to become a restricted free agent after signing a one-year deal in the off-season, and if the team wants him to one day take over for Kiprusoff, they eventually have to trust him enough to play him more frequently -- in the NHL, not in the minors -- to figure out his capability.

And the minors is where McElhinney would end up if a guy like Gerber is brought in.


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