It is well documented that the weak link of the 2016 Carolina Hurricanes is the goaltending. It was expected before the season and thus far, has held true to form. On June 16th, 2016 the Hurricanes inked Cam Ward to a two year extension worth 6.6 million. In a somewhat surprising move, GM Ron Francis committed to Ward through his age 33 season. Since that date, there have been endless calls from Canes fans to find a better option. Names including Ben Bishop and Marc-André Fleury are the focal point of these external requests and now, added to that list, Jaroslav Halák.
It was clear that Ward would start the season as the number one option in net. Five games in, Cam Ward is near the bottom of NHL goalies owning a .869 save percentage. To no avail, backup Eddie Lack is carrying an even worse .857 save percentage.
News surfaced yesterday that the New York Islanders placed goalie Jaroslav Halák on the trading block. Subsequently, tons of tweets and articles about why the Canes need to trade for Halak have surfaced. There is no doubt the Canes need another goalie and Halak would definitely help the cause, but don’t plan on seeing Francis pull the trigger for Halak, or any other goalie, any time soon.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 31, 2016
Timing and History
The season is 82 games long, and only eight of those have been played. Couple that with the fact that Cam Ward is the longest tenured Cane and the only member remaining from the 2006 championship team.
Ron Francis has been around Ward on a daily basis for a very long time. When he chose to extend him, he knew what he was signing up for and planned on creating success. To think that five games into a two-year contract, the man who signed Ward would trade to replace him is fairly nonsensical.
It’s more than just a relationship. Cam Ward, like it or not, does have an impressive resume, and although it was 10 years ago, Cam Ward has a Conn Smythe trophy to his name. Not many other active goalies can make that claim.
Ward is on the decline, and it can be argued he should not have been extended, but right now he is the guy. If his level of play sustains itself, or even declines over the next couple of months, it will be a different story. For the time being this is just a bad start to the season, not a failure. Expect the Canes to continue to ride Ward as the number one option and try to regain some old mojo.