Cam Ward: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Cam Ward: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

I honestly did not do it intentionally, but perhaps the hockey gods had a hand in dropping the last two 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report cards right into the front end of a holiday weekend where many will miss them. For anyone catching up, a menu of previous player (and also coaching and GM) report cards can be found at the bottom of the article.   Cam Ward’s starting point for the 2016-17 season The 2015-16 season saw the expiration Cam Ward’s 6-year, $37.8 million contract and the potential that the team would have a different starting netminder for the first time in more than a decade. But based on a decent burst of play by Ward in the winter when the team played well and won and possibly because of not liking the other options, Ron Francis chose to bring Ward back on a new two-year contract. In so doing, Francis made the decision to return to a 2015-16 goalie tandem and goalie coach that was among the worst in the NHL by most statistical measures. Ward’s 2015-16 season was actually mixed. Ward started slow, yielding 13 goals on 98 shots for an .867 save percentage as the Hurricanes limped out of the gate with a 1-3 start. But he rebounded fairly quickly yielding on 6 goals on 99 shots through the rest of October for a .939 save percentage. And that up and down trend would continue throughout the 2015-16 season for Ward. When the team finally found its rhythm in December, Ward looked at least good enough in front of a decent hockey team. The Hurricanes won...
The Curious Case of Cam Ward

The Curious Case of Cam Ward

So if you missed it, and I can only assume since you’re reading this, you did not, Cam Ward’s first game was pretty bad. His second one wasn’t a whole lot better either. Probably both the most controversial AND the most accomplished player on the Hurricanes roster, Ward has rightfully been a lightning rod of criticism for his play in the last few years. As an admitted Cam Ward apologist over the years, I finally stopped making excuses for him last year. One can only take so many spectacular saves followed by ridiculously soft goals. So here I am, a late addition to a nearly universal Caniac Nation movement that badly wants to move on from the greatest goaltender in franchise history. Because that’s exactly what it was. History. All that said, I hear ‘Cam stinks, get rid of him’ a lot from fellow fans, and while I definitely do not think this is an invalid sentiment, I wonder if you realize how truly strange Cam Ward’s fall from grace really is. In ways, it is near unprecedented. From 2006-early 2012, Ward was one of the rising goaltending stars of the National Hockey League.  Two-time All Star, two-time playoff brick wall, Conn Smythe Trophy winner. And all of this was accomplished before his 27th birthday. This article goes in-depth to discuss and analyze the very curious fall of Cam Ward.   The Beginning: A Star is Born (2005-08) His first three regular seasons, Cam was actually pretty weak. The Conn Smythe run of course does much to obscure his early struggles, but the fact of the matter is, Cam was a...
The last angle on Carolina Hurricanes re-signing Cam Ward – The personal one

The last angle on Carolina Hurricanes re-signing Cam Ward – The personal one

As much as I enjoy writing about our beloved Carolina Hurricanes, I have thoroughly enjoyed not having to come up with a post at the end of the work week for Saturday morning’s daily post. But after a crazy busy week personally on top of a voluminous mid-June news surge out of the 1400 Edwards Mill Road offices, I actually wanted to invest a few minutes writing an extra post this week while the dust is still settling on a busy week overall and Cam Ward’s re-signing yesterday. I and many others have addressed the Cam Ward contract and situation in every way imaginable. Ward’s stats, other goalies’ stats, goalie alternatives, the trade market and expected cost, Ward’s recent play, projections for Ward’s future play and just about everything else related to Ward’s time on the ice in a Hurricanes uniform has been addressed at this point. Exactly one day before the 10-year anniversary of the Carolina Hurricanes championship that saw Cam Ward win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL playoffs MVP, I wanted to take a few minutes to step back from all, step off the ice so to speak and write about Cam Ward’s place in Hurricanes history and our hockey community.   Cam Ward’s desire to stay is meaningful to me In the article penned by Michael Smith for the team’s web site, Cam Ward was quoted as graciously saying, “I’m real thankful that Ron (Francis) and the organization are giving me another opportunity to stay for two more years.” He went on to say, “My family, we consider Raleigh home. I want to be...
Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Cam Ward: Thoughts from multiple angles (part 2)

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Cam Ward: Thoughts from multiple angles (part 2)

In case you missed it, part 1 was posted mid-day shortly after the Cam Ward re-signing was announced. Continuing with some additional thoughts on today’s big news…   The price is what it is Ward’s deal came in at a $3.3 million average for 2 years with $3.5 million in 2016-17 and $3.1 million in 2017-18. I had a deal pegged very firmly at $3 million per year if it happened. That amount would respectfully pay Ward more than Eddie Lack but by a minimal amount. At a basic level, $3.3 million for a veteran 1A/1B type goalie is reasonable, but I think a tad on the high end of the range. The market this summer for James Reimer and to a lesser degree Chad Johnson will provide some gauge of relative value. That said, Francis was not in a position to low-ball him as if he was a random free agent goalie off the street.   A one year term would have been significantly better If I had to do a deal with Ward and could change one thing, it would be term. I actually think a ‘biding time’ option like Ward makes much more sense for 1 year instead of 2. The reason is the expansion draft. It is impossible to project exactly how things will unfold, but an impending expansion draft next summer in which each team can project only 1 goalie indirectly puts 30 more goalies on the market. Not all of them are valuable/interesting but a good number are. From this upheaval, the possibility exists to pick up a goalie for cheap just before...
Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Cam Ward: Thoughts from multiple angles (part 1)

Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Cam Ward: Thoughts from multiple angles (part 1)

Today it was announced that the Carolina Hurricanes had re-signed Cam Ward to a 2-year deal at $3.3 million per year. There must be literally a dozen angles to this deal First, at a very basic level, let me say that I do not like the decision. Since right after the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, I pegged the decision on the second goalie as 1 of the 2 biggest decisions that Ron Francis needed to make this season, and I think the team could do better.   Last summer created a difficult situation I actually think under a scenario whereby Francis had 2 open slots in net, this deal could make sense. I am fine with the 1A/1B combination and think Ward fits in that scenario. The problem is that Eddie Lack is currently locked in for 2 more years and did not play up to a 1A/1B level next season. Is it possible that Lack rebounds in his second season with the Hurricanes? Sure. Is it possible that Ward plays an entire season at a higher level like his good stretch in 2015-16 and makes Lack mostly irrelevant? Sure. But for a position that I think will be the single biggest factor in deciding the fate of the 2016-17, I want better than maybe’s and could be’s. I am on record as agreeing with the crowd that Francis has been very good as a GM so far, but I think the 1 mistake that he made was the Lack situation. He paid modestly to get Lack (third and fifth round picks) who was only signed through 2015-16....