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About Last Season: Cam Ward Performance Review and Grade

Carolina’s longest-tenured player gave more of the usual sub-par goaltending with the odd “timely save” and a solid December, but was it enough to keep him around for next year?

Jamie Kellner

Cam Ward: 2016-17 By the Numbers

  • Age: 33
  • NHL Seasons: 12
  • Games Played: 61
  • Record: 26-22-12, two shutouts
  • Goals-Against Average: 2.69
  • Save Percentage: .905 overall, .910 even strength
  • Contract Status: Completed first year of two-year, $3.3 million extension

Making the Grade

It’s possible that Ward is the most polarizing Carolina Hurricanes player since the 2006 Stanley Cup win. Ward has a way of creating a cavernous divide between fans’ opinions of him and his future with the team, not because of anything he does off the ice (where he is, without question, an exemplary representative of the organization) but rather because of his performance on it.

There are the predictable few with nostalgic ties to the netminder responsible for the club’s first Stanley Cup, and there is something to be said for loyalty. But the fact of the matter is that Ward is getting worse, not better. His .905% save percentage was a drop from .909% the year prior and .910% another year back. His GAA also took a spike in 2016-17, rising two tenths of a point since 2015-16. He has notably improved from his worst year in 2013-14 in which he posted a .898% save percentage, but still has yet to reach his stature of old.

Ron Francis’ decision to re-sign Ward last summer was a puzzling one, and marked probably his first truly questionable decision as GM. Ward’s numbers have not been what they once were, but perhaps even more concerning was/is the typically subjective eye test. He was routinely beaten from below the goal line, uncontested point shots, and other low-danger areas. These trends continued into 2016-17, and the “What-If” game began revolving around the Canes’ potential with at least league-average goaltending, showing the team as a playoff contender with some better play in net.

But to his credit, Ward was also not without his moments of strong play. This season saw him play lights-out hockey through parts of November, most of December, and some of January as the team battled for a playoff spot from the 9th position until the wheels inevitably fell off. Perhaps this is why he seemed to have a noticeably longer leash than that of Eddie Lack, as the latter was publicly called out by Head Coach Bill Peters despite the former having not been decidedly better from a statistical standpoint.

Regardless, it seems that Ward’s time as #1 has dwindled down with the acquisition and signing of Scott Darling, and now the question is which one of Ward or Lack will be jettisoned over the summer. Neither player will hit free agency, but some sort of trade deal with the newly formed Vegas Golden Knights could see the 31st team pick up one of the Canes’ three contracted goaltenders.

Exit Interview


How do you grade Cam Ward’s 2016-17 season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A - significantly outperformed expectations
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    B - outperformed expectations
    (20 votes)
  • 50%
    C - met expectations
    (177 votes)
  • 36%
    D - underperformed expectations
    (130 votes)
  • 6%
    F - significantly underperformed expectations
    (22 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now