While the season didn’t end the way that the Carolina Hurricanes would have liked, there is plenty of reason to be excited about the future of this team. One reason that fans are already excited for next year to begin is the return of goaltender Cam Ward.
Ward hasn’t been at his highest level in the past couple of seasons, but there’s no doubt he’s among the game’s best when he’s playing at the top of his game. The question for the Canes is going to be who will back him up once he’s back between the pipes.
The two that backed him up, and eventually ended up sharing time when he went down with a sprained MCL, were Justin Peters and Dan Ellis. Neither exactly set the world on fire with their play, but each is capable of being a solid backup nonetheless.
The question is simply going to be, which one? Teams don’t carry three goaltenders on their roster typically, which means that one of Peters or Ellis will likely be headed to the AHL or looking for a backup job elsewhere, though the former is the much more likely option of the two.
Ellis has had his issues with his performance over the years, but his play in the AHL during the lockout helped to earn him a shot with the Canes. He didn’t perform too well, with a goals-against average over three and a save percentage of just .906. He had a pretty good start to the regular season, though, with a 40-save performance and a shutout coming back-to-back in January and February.
In the same amount of time, Peters didn’t fare nearly as well as Ellis did. He finished the season with a 3.46 GAA and a save percentage under .900. His experience is limited, though, and he’s only 26 years old.
It should also be taken into consideration that Ellis is a free agent this summer. While he outperformed Peters, the Hurricanes could choose to go with the younger option who’s already under contract, rather than bring back Ellis. Of course, goaltending insurance is never a bad thing, as we saw this season.
If the Hurricanes choose to bring back Ellis, this battle will likely take place in the preseason. If they don’t, then Peters is likely the guy. But it’d be hard to imagine that the Hurricanes will ride into the preseason without any sort of competition for Peters behind Ward.