Hampered by injuries and inconsistent play, coupled with goaltender Anton Khudobin emerging as a starting goaltender left Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis looking to deal Cam Ward this summer.
Injuries limited Ward to just 30 games in 2013-14 where he posted a 10-12-6 record to go along with a 3.06 GAA and a .898 save percentage.
Meanwhile Khudobin went 19-14-1 in 36 games this past season posting a 2.30 GAA and a .926 save percentage. Khudobin appeared in all 14 games in January going 10-4-0 with a 2.19 GAA and a .927 save percentage earning him one of the month’s three stars.
As a result, Francis had a conversation with Ward about the possibility of moving the 30-year-old.
“We did have that conversation, absolutely,” Francis told NHL.com. “We talked that that was a possibility going into the start of the summer.”
Naturally, Ward is surprised he’s still with Carolina with training camps set to open.
“To be honest, at the start of the summer I didn’t think I was coming back,” Ward said speaking with NHL.com. “I respect Ron for being honest with me all summer long and telling me how it is. It was going in the direction that I wasn’t going to be here.”
Ward, who led the Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup victory and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2006, knows why he’s been the subject of trade talks.
“I’ve been inconsistent,” he said. “Inconsistency at the goaltending position is something you can’t afford. These last couple years, dealing with injuries and other issues …”
“But excuses are for losers, so those don’t do you any favors.”
Francis said he was looking for something in return for Ward that would help his team going forward, not just cap relief.
“Quite frankly you look at what you will get back in return,” Francis said. “If you make a trade and you don’t get something back that makes you better, it isn’t good to make that deal. We looked at a lot of different things.”
Ward is due $6.7 million this season and $6.8 million in 2015-16 before becoming an unrestricted free agent in July 2016.
At the rate things are going, Francis will likely hold on to Ward for the duration of his contract because getting something of value for a goaltender, who is paid like a No. 1, but not playing like one will be tough.