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About Last Season: Cam Ward Performance Evaluation and Grade

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Was Cam Ward’s best season in recent history enough to earn him a new contract?

Jamie Kellner

Cam Ward: 2017-18 By The Numbers

  • Age: 34
  • NHL Seasons: 13
  • Stats: 43 GP, 23-14-4, 2.73 GAA, .906 SV%
  • Contract: UFA, Finished final year of 2 year contract ($3.3 million AAV)

Making The Grade

Last summer the Carolina Hurricanes made a trade that would in theory completely change the role Cam Ward would play for the team this season. Acquiring Scott Darling to be the clear cut number one goaltender and sending Ward to the back up role was supposed to be the key piece to the puzzle in order to get the team to the playoffs. We all know how that worked for Darling, but because of his failures the door was once again open for Ward to take the team back over and try to lead them to the promised land.

That didn’t quite work out either but without Cam Ward the 2017-2018 Carolina Hurricanes would not have ever sniffed the playoffs as deep in to the season as they did. Say what you will about Ward’s past play but this year was different. He put the team on his back and forced Bill Peters to play him. Once Peters finally gave in and admitted they needed to roll with Ward the team took off, playing some of the best hockey we have seen in Raleigh in many years.

Starting the season 11-2-1, Ward was getting the job done. During that stretch he went ten straight games without a regulation loss. He also went 17-9-3 against the Eastern Conference which is a big reason why the Canes stayed alive for so long. Sure, he will never post a Vezina-winning save percentage, but at the end of the day all that matters is wins - which he earned repeatedly.

As the season wore on, you could see Ward start to break down as did the team around him. Darling could never even come close to playing well enough to deserve the net more than once here and there, mostly when Ward absolutely had to have rest. That in turn took its toll on Ward and his play started to fall off as the team went down the stretch.

When you look at his season as a whole, the numbers don’t lie. He was fantastic in his wins, posting a 1.81 GAA and .938 save percentage. However, in his losses it got ugly fast. He had a 4.04 GAA with a .863 save percentage when losing. This ultimately leads to the stats that don’t look that impressive but anyone who watched every game this year can tell you, when Ward was on, he was up there with the best goalies across the league.

So after being thrown into the backup role to start the year, watching his counterpart fail miserably, and attempting the save the team by carrying them on his back, where does that leave Ward? As a potential UFA and tons of uncertainty surrounding his situation. Brett wrote a great article on this very situation recently.

The team is tied to Scott Darling financially and Don Waddell has already verbally committed to having him back with the organization next year. It’s no secret the Hurricanes absolutely cannot come back with the same two goaltenders once again next year.

So what happens to Ward? Does he walk away and hit free agency? Does Darling go to Charlotte and they bring Ward back plus another new goalie? It’s very hard to say. Ward did his job this past year and showed that, with proper rest, he can be a viable back up or 1B option. But with the organization’s ties to Darling, it’s hard to envision how they have room for Ward.

In a perfect world the team would cut ties with Darling and try for the fourth time to find another true starter. Cam Ward will always have a home in Carolina once his playing time is done, but something tells me, and this may be unpopular, that #30 has not played his last game in a Canes uniform — and rightfully so. Ward has been through hell and back with this club and he has earned the right to retire from this organization when he is ready to. Sign him to another 1 or 2 year deal and let that be his final contract. There is no better man to be the first person ever to play his entire career in Raleigh, and to have his number hang in the rafters, than Cam Ward.

Don’t @ me.


Exit Interview


Poll

How do you grade Cam Ward’s 2017-2018 Performance?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A - Outstanding performance
    (37 votes)
  • 42%
    B - Above average performance
    (189 votes)
  • 40%
    C - Average performance
    (181 votes)
  • 7%
    D - Below average performance
    (34 votes)
  • 0%
    F - Significantly below average performance
    (3 votes)
444 votes total Vote Now