Ryan Miller may have some company on the goalie trade market as the NHL deadline nears next Wednesday. The Carolina Hurricanes are open to moving any of their top three goaltenders according to Darren Dreger of TSN. That includes longtime netminder Cam Ward.
Tough decisions ahead for Hurricanes. Teams saying Carolina is open to trading any one of its 3 goaltenders, including Cam Ward.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 28, 2014
The Canes also have experienced backups Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters to deal if they so choose. Those two could bring back a little something in return, but Ward could be an interesting target added to the deadline drama.
After winning the Conn Smythe after helping the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in his rookie season in 2005-06, Ward has had an up and down career. He's also gone through some recent injury woes, having missed all of January this season and appeared in just 17 games last year. Ward did return to the Canes' lineup on Tuesday and appears healthy.
Ward still has plenty of value as a 30-year-old veteran with some good hockey left in him and two years remaining on his contract. It's that $6.3 million cap hit that could give some general managers pause.
It's hard to say if Ward is up to snuff as a difference-making starter anymore. He has a paltry .893 save percentage in 20 appearances this season to go along with a 3.14 goals-against average. Additionally, Ward's numbers have been on the decline over the last four years.
However, for teams looking at Miller as a potential trade target, Ward offers a potentially more affordable option in terms of what they'd have to give up. He's three years younger and has two years left on his deal. If there's a team or teams out there that believe the recent decline in numbers is more team driven than goaltender driven, there's probably a decent market for Ward.
That could be bad news for the Buffalo Sabres who need to get something out of Miller to go towards its likely lengthy rebuilding process. If this softens the market, it probably only does so slightly. Miller is in the middle of a great year, while Ward comes with his share of risk.
It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere, but you can always count on the last week of the trade deadline to throw you a few curveballs.