Bringing in a backup goaltender to fulfill the duties of a number one netminder can be a risky move. It is always difficult to predict how it will pan out. Unfortunately for the Carolina Hurricanes, their decision to sign Scott Darling as the team’s starting goalie has not worked out.
Scott Darling Not Working Out For Carolina Hurricanes
Looking back at Darling’s time as the backup to Corey Crawford with the Chicago Blackhawks, there were signs that he could serve as a number one netminder somewhere. Last season alone, he played in 32 games, recording a 2.38 goals-against-average and .924 save percentage. In addition, two of Darling’s 18 victories were shutouts.
He seemed like a perfect fit for Carolina when they traded for his rights in April. Confident in his ability to be the starting goalie of an up-and-coming team, the Hurricanes rewarded Darling with a four-year, $16.6 million contract. Unfortunately, his play in net has the franchise regretting this decision.
To put it bluntly, the 28-year-old Virginia native has been absolutely horrific for Carolina this season. You never know how a backup will transition to being a number one goalie, but very few people could have predicted things being this bad. After being rocked by the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-1 Tuesday afternoon, Darling now has a .896 save percentage through 24 games. In addition, he is allowing 2.87 goals a game and has yet to record a shutout.
Outside of the goalie situation, the Hurricanes are equipped with a talented roster. They find themselves four points out of a playoff spot 33 games into the season and should be considered as postseason hopefuls. However, that is only if they can find a netminder who can perform better than Darling has to this point.
What About Cam Ward?
There is another goaltender in Carolina who can give the old number one goalie role another shot. Cam Ward has dedicated his hockey career to the Hurricanes franchise and should be given some more opportunities in net this season.
Now, Ward’s production has certainly been on the decline in recent years, not posting a save percentage of .910 or better since 2014-15. Still, it is clear that the Scott Darling experiment is falling on its face. The Hurricanes need to find an answer to their goalie problem and it’s better to look internally first.
Maybe Ward won’t be able to handle being the number one goalie anymore. The workload just might be too much for the 33-year-old. It still might be worth the shot if Scott Darling continues to fail.
Changes Must Be Made
The chance of the Hurricanes making the postseason has not been this high in quite some time. However, it is clear that the improvements to the goalie position must be made if that is going to happen.
There is still time for Darling to turn it around, although it’s not looking likely at this point. There is also the small hope that Ward can come in and get the job done. However, if things aren’t looking better by the trade deadline, the Hurricanes must look elsewhere for other options.
It truly is a shame that Darling is not working out in Carolina. A lot of people were pulling for him to have a successful career there. Unfortunately, it has just not worked out to this point.