My recent article about Cam Ward from earlier this week not only spurred a bit of discussion on the blog, but it also stirred up some debate among the staff of Canes Country. We decided to put together a round table discussion about the goalie, along with some trade proposals from those of us who think a trade is possible and would be best for the club.
Just to quickly review the facts, the Hurricanes are currently on the hook for over $8.5 million of cap space next season to be used for Ward and Anton Khudobin. That number is the second highest dollar amount committed to goaltending in the NHL, behind only the New York Rangers.
The team basically has three choices this offseason regarding Ward:
1. They can bite the bullet and keep both goalies, knowing that the expense would restrict them money wise, as to whom they can sign to help out the forward corps or blueline. (They are currently at $52 million with seven forwards and five defensemen signed, (including Ryan Murphy), and the Cap is projected to be about $69-$70 million. They have several players yet to sign.) (Cap Geek)
2. They can buy out the goalie, which would help out the cap space involved, but would cost $9 million in cash to be spread out over four years in equal payouts.
3. They can try to trade him, knowing that they would have to eat some salary, take back another bad contract in return, (or possibly both), or throw in an asset to sweeten the deal.
(Those of us putting forth trade proposals of course recognize that Ward has a no-trade clause and the goalie would have to approve any deal before it could happen.)
Cory Lavalette - Editor
If Ward only had one year remaining on his contract instead of two.
If there weren't other quality goaltenders (Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, etc, according to CapGeek there are 17 who played in over 20 games last season) available via free agency.
If other organizations not in the market for a UFA goaltender weren't looking for the Canes to pick up an equally expensive/underperforming contract as part of a trade.
If a new coaching staff wasn't on the way (including reassignment of the prior goaltending coach).
If there was a ready replacement in the Canes' development system.
Honestly speaking, I could sit here all day and try to come up with hypothetical trades involving Cam Ward and argue why they would be good for both teams. It’s something that I enjoy and it’s something I do every now and then in random threads. But I’ve been looking at this since before the trade deadline, trying to figure out what is a realistic spot for Cam to go to and what could the Hurricanes get in return. And my conclusion is, based on his performance from the past 2 seasons and his salary, there just aren’t many options for Cam Ward.
Probably the best option for Cam would be to be bought out and then go sign cheaply with a team in need of a goaltender, but that doesn’t completely work for the Carolina franchise. Paying him $9 million over the next 4 years to play for someone else is especially tough for a "budget" franchise. The Canes could always retain half of his salary, but that still would cost them over $6.5 million for him to play elsewhere. Trading him is the most difficult option and keeping him as a backup is a tough pill to swallow. Ron Francis finds himself in a very bad situation thanks to his predecessor.
So I believe Cam Ward will be back in a Hurricanes uniform next season, to the detriment of the team. He will be unhappy with a backup role and inconsistent when he actually plays, but he will be collecting a fat paycheck. His and other contracts will prohibit management from acquiring other players that could help balance the lineup and we will fail to see the playoffs yet again. The Hurricanes will be looking to go into a full rebuild come sometime in 2016.
C-Leaguer - Contributor
Winnipeg for Pavelec has seemed like the logical destination for a while now to me. With that said Miller being on the market changes some things. I've been thinking that Cam might get traded in season next year as someone who outperforms expectations decides to make a move. This could still be Winnipeg. Still like to get something done at the draft, but I've been thinking that the trade deadline might be the more logical time. Canes may be more willing to keep more salary then.
Matt Krombach - Intern
With a new General Manager in place, there is no predictability to what may happen during the 2014 offseason. Ron Francis stated that he was looking to have a new coach in place around the time of the 2014 Draft, could there also be player changes by then?