Much has been said about Carolina Hurricanes regular starting goalie Cam Ward and his bout with injuries. Ward is a great goalie who has seen great games and has been massive for Carolina as the face of the franchise for a long time. This may have just ended.
The Hurricanes currently have two reliable goalies in Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters. Neither of those players are Ward. Carolina is carrying all three goaltenders on the roster, though Ward is on injured reserve. With GM and walking punchline Jim Rutherford making a commitment to turn the team around, nobody’s job is safe.
The situation sits like this. Khudobin is hot, Peters is hot and Ward can’t stay off injured reserve. The team needs offense, and Ward could bring a lot on the trade market. Cover up the names on the jerseys, look at stats and performance and the one who needs to go becomes apparent.
One of the first things folks can point to is Ward’s ‘no-trade clause’ in his gigantic contract, but this can be gotten around by making Ward an offer he can’t refuse. Either he waives the clause or he becomes good friends with the bench. Waive the clause and he might play more minutes with a horrible club who needs the help; be stubborn and he’ll maintain a permanent hat-ring on his head from bench-riding.
It might smell like blasphemy to say “trade Ward,” but the fanbase has already been dipping their toes into that pool — so the response might not be the riot that destroys Glenwood Ave that so many predict. Should a trade with Ward bring some big-time offense to the team, complaining fans will shut their word holes.
It’s not that Ward is awful; it’s that Khudobin and Peters are playing well, and he can’t be relied upon. His previous injuries seem to be worse than we thought or his conditioning isn’t up to snuff. Either way, he should no longer be trusted with defending the Hurricanes’ goal.
It’s gut-check time for Rutherford. Something needs to happen, and Ward has become a moot point.