A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cam Ward signed for three

On Thursday afternoon, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they came to terms on a three year deal with goaltender Cam Ward. The deal is for a total of $8M, $3.5 of which coming in the final year.

Ward's paycheck for 2007-08 will be for $2M, but as far as the salary cap is concerned, his "hit" will be for $2.67M.

In 2005-06, Ward spent most of the season as the rookie backup to Martin Gerber. He opened his season with a shootout win at home versus Pittsburgh, but was frankly unimpressive after that. Gerber struggled in games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Montréal, and Ward was phenomenal. Although the two shared goaltending duties in the playoffs, it was Ward who became the #1 guy.

En route to winning the Conn Smythe trophy, Cam Ward put up some very impressive playoff numbers. 15 wins. His 2.14 GAA (in 23 games) was second only to the god-like 1.47 posted by Ilja Bryzgalov (in 11 games). His save percentage of .920 was sixth. In front of him was Bryzgalov (.944), Cristobal Huet (.929), Dwayne Roloson (.927), Martin Brodeur (.923) and Mikka Kiprusoff (.921). His two shutouts were second only to Bryzgalov's three. He was one of only three goalies to get an assist.

During the Buffalo series for the Eastern Conference Championship, and especially during the SCF series against Edmonton, Ward was amazing. He made two jaw-dropping highlight reel saves in the final. The first was late in game one where he had to explode across the crease from post-to-post on Shawn Horcoff. The other was in game seven, with about three minutes left, he robbed Raffi Torres on a brilliant scoring chance, then flashed across the crease to shut down the Fernando Pisani rebound chance. It was the latter of those two that will probably go down as the most significant save of his career, but the former was more spectacular.

In 2006-07, the Hurricanes didn't have much success, and Ward's numbers were less than spectacular. His 30 wins, 2.93 GAA, .897 save percentage and two shutouts were not good enough to even be in the top 30 in any category.

Still, Ward is, and has to be, the franchise goaltender.

This is a smidgen more than I expected the Canes to pay Ward, and it could be an indicator that they won't be aggressive in the free agent market. By the time it gets to that, the Hurricanes might not have it in their budget to spend $2.5M for a winger.

With Glen Wesley saying he'll come back and Bret Hedican "reminding" the Canes that he had already picked up the player option, the Hurricanes will have an excess of defensemen. Perhaps one or more of them will be traded.

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