This was a "resurgent" season for Carolina Hurricanes goalie, Cam Ward. After two straight injury plagued seasons, Ward was mostly healthy this past campaign. That's the good news.
He finished the year with a 22-24-6 record, along with a .910 save percentage. And while that percentage is much better than the previous season's .898, it is still lower than what the top goalies in the league are churning out.
Even though he is playing better, he is still not playing well enough to take the Canes to the promised land. His save percentage placed him at 34th in the league.
Everyone knows that Ward carries a hefty price tag. There are only a handful of goalies in the NHL who will earn more than Ward's payout of $6.8 million for next season, the final year of his contract.
While Ward took a step forward, Anton Khudobin took a step back. After posting an amazing .926 save percentage the previous year, his percentage dropped to .900 this past season.
Since he had such a solid first year in Carolina, a year ago the Canes rewarded the goalie with a two-year deal which pays him an average of $2.25 million per season. (He will earn $2.5 million next season).
The plan going forward during last off season seemed to be, to trade Ward and move on with Khudobin. During last summer, Ron Francis went so far as to inform Ward that he was no longer in the team's plans.
But apparently, something got in the way of a potential deal and the Canes entered the season with both Ward and Khudobin, giving the team the 2nd highest paid goalie tandem in the league.
|2014-15 Goalie Salary Caps|
|Team||Goalie 1||Cap||Goalie 2||Cap||total cap hit|
|Anaheim||Andersen||$ 1,150,000||Gibson||$ 787,000||$ 1,937,000|
|Arizona||Smith||$ 5,667,000||Domingue||$ 550,000||$ 6,217,000|
|Boston||Rask||$ 7,000,000||Svedberg||$ 600,000||$ 7,600,000|
|Buffalo||Lindback||$ 925,000||Johnson||$ 1,000,000||$ 1,925,000|
|Calgary||Hiller||$ 4,500,000||Ramo||$ 2,750,000||$ 7,250,000|
|Carolina||Ward||$ 6,300,000||Khudobin||$ 2,250,000||$ 8,550,000|
|Chicago||Crawford||$ 6,000,000||Darling||$ 570,000||$ 6,570,000|
|Colorado||Varlamov||$ 5,900,000||Berra||$ 1,450,000||$ 7,350,000|
|Columbus||Bobrovsky||$ 5,625,000||McElhinney||$ 650,000||$ 6,275,000|
|Dallas||Lehtonen||$ 5,900,000||Enroth||$ 1,250,000||$ 7,150,000|
|Detroit||Howard||$ 5,291,667||Gustavsson||$ 1,850,000||$ 7,141,667|
|Edmonton||Fasth||$ 2,900,000||Scrivens||$ 2,300,000||$ 5,200,000|
|Florida||Luongo||$ 4,533,333||Montoya||$ 1,050,000||$ 5,583,333|
|Los Angeles||Quick||$ 5,800,000||Jones||$ 550,000||$ 6,350,000|
|Minnesota||Backstrom||$ 3,416,667||Kuemper||$ 1,250,000||$ 4,666,667|
|Montreal||Price||$ 6,500,000||Tokarski||$ 562,000||$ 7,062,000|
|Nashville||Rinne||$ 7,000,000||Hutton||$ 725,000||$ 7,725,000|
|New Jersey||Schneider||$ 4,000,000||Kinkaid||$ 600,000||$ 4,600,000|
|Islanders||Halak||$ 4,500,000||Neuvirth||$ 551,000||$ 5,051,000|
|Rangers||Lundqvist||$ 8,500,000||Talbot||$ 562,000||$ 9,062,000|
|Ottawa||Anderson||$ 3,188,000||Lehner||$ 2,225,000||$ 5,413,000|
|Philadelphia||Mason||$ 4,100,000||Emery||$ 1,000,000||$ 5,100,000|
|Pittsburgh||Fleury||$ 5,000,000||Greiss||$ 1,000,000||$ 6,000,000|
|San Jose||Niemi||$ 3,800,000||Stalock||$ 1,600,000||$ 5,400,000|
|St. Louis||Elliott||$ 2,500,000||Allen||$ 800,000||$ 3,300,000|
|Tampa Bay||Bishop||$ 2,300,000||Vasilevskiy||$ 634,000||$ 2,934,000|
|Toronto||Bernier||$ 2,900,000||Reimer||$ 2,300,000||$ 5,200,000|
|Vancouver||Miller||$ 6,000,000||Lack||$ 1,150,000||$ 7,150,000|
|Washington||Holtby||$ 1,850,000||Peters||$ 950,000||$ 2,800,000|
|Winnipeg||Pavelec||$ 3,900,000||Hutchinson||$ 575,000||$ 4,475,000|
(Compiled with help from NHL Numbers)
Needless to say, as a budget team the Hurricanes can ill afford to be at the top of the league in this department. But what makes this even worse is that, once again, the club is not getting enough value for what they are paying.
Similar to the report showing that the top forwards on the team were tremendously over-paid, (compared to the production and pay of their peers across the league), Carolina has the same dilemma with their goaltending.
And one could say that for a team starved for goal-scoring, the salary spent here should be re-allocated to acquire a talented forward.
After watching the playoffs, it seems that some clubs really don't need to spend a lot of money on goaltending to be successful. Every postseason we see unlikely heroes step up and win games for their teams and so far, these playoffs have been much the same.
James Mirtle recently wrote an article examining this in more detail.
Of course there are a handful, like Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price, and Pekka Rinne who are the exceptions, but you really never know what goalie might stand up and steal a playoff series for you.
Regardless, the Hurricanes are spending way too much money on goaltending and they most likely will try to make a change again this summer. The question is, will they be able to?