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.