Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
As Matt Murray seeks to match Cam Ward’s feat of winning 15 playoff games as a rookie goaltender (joining Patrick Roy and Ron Hextall as the only other netminders to do that), the now 32-year-old Ward might be on the brink of parting ways with the only NHL team he’s ever played for.
That 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy has been the highlight of Ward’s career, but it certainly hasn’t been the only one. While Carolina has made the playoffs just once since winning the Stanley Cup, Ward has had several strong campaigns as the Hurricanes’ starting goaltender. He’s had some pretty bad campaigns too, but in his last two seasons he’s been okay in the defense of a mediocre squad.
“Okay” wasn’t the word the Hurricanes were hoping would be associated with Ward though when he inked his six-year, $37.8 million deal back in 2009. He didn’t justify that salary over the length of his contract and it seems unlikely that he’ll command anywhere near that average annual salary with his next deal.
Assuming him taking a pay cut is a foregone conclusion though, the question then turns to who will give it to him. Although his previous deal didn’t go as hoped, Carolina might be willing to stick with him. Hurricanes GM Ron Francis seemed open to that possibility in May and Ward is interesting in re-signing.
Eddie Lack is signed for two seasons with a $2.75 million cap hit, but he’s coming off a rough campaign, so the Hurricanes will likely want to pair him with a veteran goaltender, be it Ward or someone else. Calgary is another team that needs goaltending help, although James Reimer might be the goalie they target.
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