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Cam Ward headed toward big payday, but how much?

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There is a lot riding on Cam Ward this season. Almost every hockey publication has stressed that his performance will be a major factor to the success or failure of the team this year. And who can blame them? When the Hurricanes went on a huge winning streak in the final month of the season last March, "Ward-o" was at his best.

Then he went on to continue his outstanding work in the playoffs.

The goalie is in the final year of a contract which will pay him 3.5 million this year and it will be a priority for the franchise to get him re-signed before July 1, 2010 when he will be a restricted free agent. But unlike Eric Staal, who got a contract extension almost a year before his deal expired, management is saying they will wait until the end of this season to work on Cam's.

How much do you think he will be paid? First, let's take a look at some of his stats.

Ward has been improving every year of his career.

  • 2005-06 GP 28 W 14 L 8 OTL 2 GAA 3.68 SV% .882 SO 0
  • 2006-07 GP 60 W 30 L 21 OTL 6 GAA 2.93 SV% .897 SO 2
  • 2007-08 GP 69 W 37 L 25 OTL 5 GAA 2.75 SV% .904 SO 4
  • 2008-09 GP 68 W 39 L 23 OTL 5 GAA 2.44 SV% .916 SO 6
  • Lifetime GP 225 W 120 L 77 OTL 18 GAA 2.81 SV% .903 SO 12

While the goalie's regular season stats are respectable, his playoff performances are approaching legendary status. He is undefeated in game seven's, (4-0) and has only lost one playoff series so far in his career. (6-1). The 25 year old has also won a Conn Smythe as well as a Stanley Cup.

His playoff stats are better than the regular season:

  • Lifetime GP 41 W 23 L 18 GAA 2.38 SV% .917

The last time Ward was up for a new contract, he got the exact same deal that Ryan Miller received. The Buffalo goalie signed a contract last year which pays him an average of 6.25 million for five years.

Miller's regular season stats are a bit better than Ward's, but Miller is three years older.

  • Lifetime GP 264 W 146 L 86 OTL 26 GAA 2.66 SV% .910

His playoffs stats are also good, although he has not won the accolades Ward has.

  • Lifetime GP 34 W 20 L 14 GAA 2.40 SV% .915

Another goalie Ward might be compared to is Marc-Andre Fleury, the recent Cup winner who recently signed a seven year 35 million dollar contract. Fleury's stats?

  • Lifetime GP 235 W 111 L 85 OTL GAA 2.87 SV% .907

Like Ward, Fleury's playoff stats are better than his regular season's.

  • Lifetime GP 49 W 31 L 18 GAA 2.45 SV% .916

Will Ward get a deal commensurate with Fleury or another deal like Miller's? Or will he earn even more? It figures to be long term and it will be lucrative, but how high will Jim Rutherford and Peter Karmanos go? Do you agree with the decision to wait until after the season to negotiate, or should they try to extend Ward now?