There’s nothing to say about the events leading up to this conundrum that hasn’t already been said. The situation between Cam Ward, Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters is confusing at best. Everything would have been fine if Peters hadn’t all of a sudden become awesome. Had he remained an AHL level goalie, Carolina could have sent him back down and gone along their merry way.
However, they are now faced with a situation where Khudobin is doing magnificently and Peters is the best he’s been. With three goalies someone has to go. As if it wasn’t weird enough, Ward has been shaky in his last few starts.
Head coach Kirk Muller announced Saturday morning that Khudobin was his goalie of choice to start against the New York Islanders. With Ward nursing a minor injury and not making the trip, it was Khudobin or Peters. Muller really could have gone either way with his starting goaltender, and there’s nothing at all wrong with one or the other.
This is emblematic of the bigger picture. Carolina’s goaltending problem is no longer a problem. Their options are play Ward and Khudobin and put Peters on the trade market, play Ward and Peters and keep Khudobin in Charlotte as a spare, or trade Khudobin. Literally every one of those options will end up being great for the Hurricanes.
Peters would be huge trade bait for Carolina. Should Khudobin continue coming up as huge as he is, keeping him and Ward on the roster and cashing Peters in for a hot skater would be massive. Should Khudobin falter, Peters has already proven himself a more than reliable backup.
The key to all of this is Ward. Carolina is not going to trade their franchise goaltender. He might be in a rough patch, but overall he’s still a top-tier goalie with skills to spare. Ward snapping out of his fog is how Carolina will make this decision. If Ward can’t get his act together, Khudobin stays, Peters goes.
There’s always the option of keeping Peters in Charlotte as well — in case it wasn’t complicated enough.
Any way you slice it, Carolina has three great goaltenders and having to choose between them is like having to choose between bacon and sausage. It’s going to be great either way. The goaltending problem in Carolina is a problem most teams would love to have.