Goaltender Cam Ward has signed a two-year extension with the Carolina Hurricanes. His deal comes with an average annual cap hit of $3.3 million.
Ward, 32, has been inconsistent in recent years and has been on the Canes’ trading block. He was due to become an unrestricted free agent July 1; his former contract came with an average annual cap hit of $6.3 million.
Ward went 23-17-10 with 2.41 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 52 games this season.
The Hurricanes traded for goalie Eddie Lack last offseason, and it seems as though he could be the goalie of the future. Lack went 12-14-6 with a 2.81 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in 34 contests this season. He is signed through the end of the 2017-2018 season with an average annual cap hit of $2.75 million. It’s likely these two will share the crease again this season.
The Hurricanes organization is hopeful, however, that Ward will rediscover his game. Ward won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in his rookie season. He has gone 269-208-68 with a 2.7 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 564 career regular-season games. He has only competed in two postseasons, including 2006 when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. He has a 23-18 record along with a 2.38 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 41 career playoff games.
“Cam has been a major face of the Hurricanes both on the ice and in our community for more than a decade,” general manager Ron Francis said. “We are happy he has chosen to continue his career in Carolina.”
The structure of the deal makes Ward a valuable trade chip with the short term and low cap hit. Regardless of what Francis and the Hurricanes decide to do with Ward, this is a solid contract and will give Ward another chance to turn his game around. The Hurricanes were very competitive this season even if the standings didn’t always reflect that. The team will be without Eric Staal, but there are new faces in the locker room and Ward is certainly capable of having a big bounce-back year, especially if he and Lack can split the starts.
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