Veteran winger Joel Ward, set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, hasn’t had any talks with Washington about a new contract — not that it’s a major concern to Ward’s agent, Peter Cooney.
“I don’t read anything into it,” Cooney told CSN Washington. “I’m not worried, either. There is a lot of season left and a lot of time left before July 1.”
Ward, 34, is coming off a banner 2013-14 campaign in which he scored a career-high 24 goals and 49 points. Though his production has been a bit slower this season — he’s on pace for 18 and 33 — there still figures to be a market for a guy in the last of a four-year, $12 million deal.
The former Wild and Predator has been through unrestricted free agency before, and it’ll be curious to see how Washington approaches him. Caps GM Brian MacLellan has plenty of players to deal with this summer — UFA d-man Mike Green, starting goalie Braden Holtby, another veteran winger in Eric Fehr and a pair of young talents in Marcus Johansson and Evgeni Kuznetsov.
For teams looking to add veteran experience, Ward will be intriguing. Though he turns 35 next season, he has less than 500 games on his odometer after breaking into the NHL late (as a 26-year-old in Minnesota). Ward’s also proven to be a solid playoff performer; he has 26 points in 39 career postseason games and scored one of the more memorable goals in Caps history during the ’12 playoffs, a Game 7 OT winner against Boston in the opening round: