Cam Ward

‘Canes to send Ward to AHL for conditioning stint

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On Thursday, Carolina head coach Kirk Muller confirmed that goalie Cam Ward will head to AHL Charlotte as part of his rehab from a lower-body injury.

Ward, who has been sidelined since Dec. 31, has missed Carolina’s last 13 games with the ailment and lost his grasp on the club’s No. 1 gig as well. Backup Anton Khudobin has performed admirably in relief and has been Carolina’s goalie of record in every game since Ward got hurt, going 9-4-0 over that stretch.

With Khudobin in goal, the ‘Canes also jumped into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

We wrote about Carolina’s questions in goal last week. With Khudobin, Ward and Justin Peters all currently with the team, the ‘Canes are in the unenviable position of carrying a three-headed goalie monster, which is always difficult in terms of logistics.

There’s also this, from the Raleigh News & Observer:

Is Khudobin, two years younger than Ward, a better long-term solution in goal? And does Ward’s contract, with a $6.3 million salary-cap hit through 2015-16, still make financial sense given his recent history of injuries and inconsistency?

It’s not a decision the Hurricanes have to make now, but it is one they have to start thinking about now. Khudobin will be a free agent this summer, and one of the most sought-after of the bunch if he continues to play like this. The Hurricanes can’t afford to re-sign Khudobin and keep Ward. At the moment, with Ward out, they’ll ride Khudobin as far as he can take them.

We welcomed Ward to the trade rumor mill two weeks ago, when his name surfaced as a potential trade target (at the time it involved Edmonton, but the Oilers went in a different direction, jettisoning Devan Dubnyk and acquiring Ben Scrivens.)

Ward, a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, has struggled this season (6-7-5, .895 save percentage) but his career .910 save percentage in 450 appearances could garner some interest.

And if he does garner interest, one wonders if Carolina will make a move.

Peters, like Khudobin, is also a UFA at season’s end and could be retained as a cost-effective backup, much like what Khudobin is this season on his one-year, $800,000 deal.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.

Flames release Ryan Wilson from PTO

Ryan Wilson, Sidney Crosby
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The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.

The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.

Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.

The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.

He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.

The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.

The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.

The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.