Free Agent Watch: Cam Ward

 

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Credit: Ellen Ozier/Associated Press

Cam Ward is going to be a free agent after spending his whole NHL 11 year career with the Carolina Hurricanes. Ward has been on the decline as he ages. It wonders where the 32-year-old goalie will go to finish up his career, but he does have a chance to stay in Carolina as Alex Nedeljkovic, their top goaltender prospect is developing and could take two or three seasons of further development. Ward should not be too expensive, which I think he will give Carolina a hometown discount.

If this is an end to an era in Carolina, like what happened with Eric Staal, then Ward had a great time as a Hurricane. He has played 564 games (started 465) for the Canes and recorded 269 wins, which is the most in the franchise’s history. He is by far the greatest goalie that has ever come across the team.

In addition, Ward last season started 51 out of the 52 games he played in. He won 23 games, lost 17, and lost at the end of regulation (overtime and shootout) 10 times, which led the league. His save percentage sat at .909 and his goals against average was around .241, which was not totally his fault when giving up goals, as his defense was poor at most times.

Now, other than him returning to Carolina, he could explore around the league, but he will most likely be a backup, but if he has a solid defense he could still compete as a starter. So one team that has an up and down defense is the Calgary Flames, who had an amazing 2014-2015 season, but struggled this past year. Both of their goalies are free agents (Ramo and Hiller). So, if the Flames do not pay those two, they should go target Cam Ward, which I think he would solidify that position for a couple of years until the next young goalie comes up. Ward will play at a higher level than the two last year. The Flames should retain Ramo though, as he is a good backup.

Finally, I interestingly came across the New York Islanders because their goalie situation is a mystery. Halak will be getting surgery this off-season and Thomas Greiss is at best a backup, but he stepped up well for the Islanders when Halak was not playing. The Islanders should find a trade partner to move Halak, which that experiment was looking like a success in the 2014-2015 season, but this year was a disaster. It is time to move on and experiment with a new goalie. Greiss is a free agent after the 2016-2017 season, which he is cheap and could get an extension as a solid backup or even as a potential platoon partner for Ward. Ward would join a team that does play a physical defense, but they are up and down, but when the team is on point, they are hard to beat and this could show people that Ward still has what it takes to play at the highest level of hockey. This might be Ward’s best chance on hoisting the Stanley Cup again.

Prediction: Ward explores the league and signs with the New York Islanders.

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