The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed goaltender Cam Ward to a two-year, $6.6 million contract. Ward was eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward’s new deal is worth $3.1 million next season and $3.5 million in 2017-18. His annual cap hit is $3.3 million. The new deal also comes with a modified no-trade clause. While that’s a considerable cut from his six-year, $37.8 million contract ($6.3 million annual cap hit), it’s still a surprising move by the Hurricanes.
Ward, 31, is the franchise leader in wins (269), shutouts (23) and games played by a goalie (564). He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2006 backstopping the Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup title. He played 52 games last season, sporting a 2.41 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
It was assumed the Hurricanes would part ways with Ward this summer. Evidently, GM Ron Francis decided it best to stick with a starter he knew than one he didn’t. To be fair, the options weren’t the best in this summer’s free-agent market, where Ward ranked as the best of the bunch.
However, the possibility of league expansion next June could force some clubs to shop a goalie. There’s speculation notables such as Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop might be available. Is so, re-signing Ward takes the Canes out of this summer’s goalie trade market.
Maybe Francis felt the asking price for those goalies was too high, or he knew the Hurricanes weren’t on their lists of preferred destinations. Perhaps some of the trade chatter claiming those goalies on the move is overblown. Or maybe Francis values Ward higher than most.
Whatever the reason, Francis opted to stick with Ward. At least the new deal is a reasonable one.