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Carolina's Goalie Dilemma

With Anton Khudobin nearly ready to return, the Hurricanes have a decision to make

Justin Peters has more wins and saves than Cam Ward this season
Justin Peters has more wins and saves than Cam Ward this season
Jamie Kellner

About a month and a half ago, the Carolina Hurricanes were in a dire situation regarding their goaltending. In mid-October, Anton Khudobin injured his ankle while skating outside of the crease to play a puck, then a game or so later, Cam Ward pulled his groin making a routine save against Minnesota.

The team had no choice but to rely on their AHL tandem of Justin Peters and Mike Murphy.

Carolina fans had seen this scenario before, as Ward and his backup, Dan Ellis both suffered injuries last season, requiring Peters to hold the fort through a prolonged period. Neither Peters or the team reacted well, as the team lost 14 of 17 games during one stretch while the goalie won only four games in 16 starts. His GAA was 3.46 and he had a save percentage of .891.

Enter 2013-14 and "Pete Dawg" started out much like he finished the previous season. He lost his first five decisions and allowed 18 goals in those five games. But Peters kept the faith and believed that the extra work he had put in during the offseason to improve, made him an NHL caliber goalie.

Give credit to him and his teammates, as the defense made some adjustments and started to collapse more around the crease area to take care of rebounds and Peters was less erratic in the crease. The Canes went on a five game point streak and Peters was the number one star of multiple games during the stretch, while earning a 4-0-1 record along with a .959 save percentage.

At the present time, it seems that the coaching staff thinks that starting him gives the team as much chance to win as starting Cam Ward, who has had ups and downs since his return from injury. The goalie currently has a two game winning streak, has the only shutout of the season, and is 6-2-1 in his last nine games.

While Ward has started one more game than Peters this season, the backup actually has better numbers.

Goalie GP Wins Losses OTL Shots GA GAA Saves SV% SO
Peters 14 6 7 1 425 33 2.35 392 0.923 1
Ward 15 5 5 4 427 40 2.91 387 0.906 0
Khudobin 3 2 0 0 70 5 2 65 0.929 0

The perception is that the Canes play a bit tighter in front of Peters, than Ward, but the numbers indicate something different. Peters sees an average of 30 shots a game, where Ward sees an average of 28.

In a near perfect world, the Hurricanes could simply reassign Peters back to Charlotte when Khudobin was ready, but it is a good bet that the goalie would be claimed on waivers. (While he was originally recalled on an emergency basis, he has played over the 10 game minimum and indeed would have to pass through waivers.)

With Carolina's luck regarding injuries, they would try to send Peters to Charlotte, he would get claimed by another team, and then either Ward or Khudobin would get hurt again and the Canes would be stuck without a suitable backup.

Also, the fact is that starting Peters gives the Hurricanes a good chance to win right now, which is important to the club at the present time. Ward has looked brilliant on some nights, but has been inconsistent on others.

Khudobin has yet to lose a game this season and was playing better than either Ward or Peters, in the small time frame before he was injured.

So what should the Hurricanes do? They could try to trade one of the goalies for another needed asset. They could try to keep three goalies on the roster for awhile, which really is cumbersome for practices and a waste of a spot for games. They could try to package one of the goalies along with another player, for a needed asset.

If they did trade a goalie, which one should they try to trade? Peters is hot right now, but can he keep up his solid performances?

Khudobin has not been around enough to give a true reflection of his ability. Should the Canes consider trading him if they can get a good return?

Should the Canes do what many consider the unthinkable, try to trade Cam Ward? That is hard to imagine in reality because he has always been a personal favorite of Jim Rutherford, but Ward has been inconsistent, or injured for a couple of seasons now and his numbers do not measure up to his lofty salary, ($6.3 million per year for two more seasons with a no trade clause.)

According to Cap Geek, Ward has the fourth highest cap hit of all goalies in the NHL this season, but his performance is nowhere near that number.

Here is your chance to speak up and voice your opinion. If you were GM, what would you try to do?

Assuming that you could get a fair return for any of these goalies, which one would you try to trade, or would you just try to send Peters back to Charlotte and roll the dice?