In 26 starts this season for the Lightning, Ellis was 13-7-6 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. This will be his fourth NHL team.
"We are excited to acquire a goaltender of Dan's caliber, someone we feel can help us immediately," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said in a statement. "He has experience playing in big games down the stretch."
With All-Star starter Jonas Hiller on injured reserve (recurrent lightheadedness), the Ducks were in need of stronger backup help as they fight for a playoff spot in the tightly packed Western Conference.
The Ducks, currently tied with the Blackhawks and Stars for ninth in the conference, signed Ray Emery to a one-year, two-way deal Feb. 7 that pays him a $500,000, pro-rated salary in the NHL and $105,000 in the minors. He was recalled by the team Wednesday and was McElhinney's backup in a 3-2 loss, the Ducks' fourth in a row.
The 28-year-old Emery is attempting a comeback from a hip condition that threatened his career. Emery underwent specialized hip surgery in April to address deterioration of the ball of his right hip without having to undergo a full replacement. He rehabbed for eight months in the Toronto area, working every day with trainer Matt Nichol.
McElhinney, who posted a 6-9-1 record in 21 appearances, with a 3.43 GAA and .890 save percentage, makes $570,000 this season (with a $535,000 cap hit). The 27-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Ellis, 30, has another year left on his deal at $1.5 million, so the move clears out some cap space for Tampa Bay next season. The Lightning are in second place in the Eastern Conference and have a strong No. 1 goalie in Dwayne Roloson, whom they acquired in a January trade with the New York Islanders.