Cam Ward was thrust back into the starter's role for the Hurricanes last season after the team lost confidence in Eddie Lack's ability to take over as the team's No. 1 netminder. As a result, Ward wound up starting 61 games (compared to 52 and 51 respectively, the previous two seasons), and put up a mediocre 26-22-12 record along with a 2.69 GAA and .905 save percentage. Now with just one season remaining on his two-year, $6.6 million contract extension, Ward figures to see no more than timeshare duties this season after the Hurricanes acquired Scott Darling from the Blackhawks in late April. Darling posted a solid 18-5-5 record for Chicago last season, proving he could handle the starting role for a stretch in place of the injured Corey Crawford. The Hurricanes are looking to get better (and younger) between the pipes this season, which likely means a backup role for Ward as Darling looks set to take over the reins.
Ward will be in the blue paint for Wednesday's preseason contest against Tampa Bay, Michael Smith of the team's official site reports. Wednesday will be Ward's first game action this season, coming in the second of back-to-back games against the Bolts. At the moment, Ward is set to enter the campaign as Scott Darling's backup, but it's not unreasonable to think that he could play his way into the starting role or a 1A-1B situation with Darling -- making him a potential steal in fantasy leagues.
Ward will not appear in Monday's preseason tilt against Buffalo, Michael Smith of the team's official site reports. The 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner is entering what will be his first NHL season as the undoubted No. 2 goaltender for the Hurricanes. On Monday, though, Jeremy Smith -- who projects to be the organization's No. 1 goalie at the AHL level -- will be given a chance to impress in the cage.
Ward is accepting of his role as Scott Darling's backup for the Hurricanes, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Spoken like a true professional, Ward supports the team's decision to acquire Darling -- he's on the books for four years, $16.6 million -- adding that he would "assist Darling any way he can, with the goal of making the Canes a playoff team again." While this promises to be an adjustment for Ward given that he'd been Carolina's No 1 netminder since the 2006-07 Stanley Cup-winning season, the Alberta native can take pride in the fact that he ranks 33rd all-time with 295 wins and is a beloved figure in Raleigh having spent all 12 years of his career there. Ward is coming off an underwhelming campaign in which he posted a 26-22-12 record, 2.68 GAA and .905 save percentage, and getting relegated to backup duty further squashes his fantasy value. As a result, he may even go undrafted in leagues with shallow rosters.
Ward was not protected by the Hurricanes in advance of the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, theScore reports. Carolina decided not to protect Ward or Eddie Lack, which is hardly a surprise after seeing Scott Darling acquired from the Blackhawks in late April and subsequently signed to a four-year, $16.6 million deal. In a figurative sense, the Hurricanes may forever be indebted to Ward after the netminder guided the franchise to its first and only Stanley Cup in 2006, not to mention that he's stuck with them for 12 seasons. Ward is somewhat affordable at $3.3 million and one year remaining on his contract, but he's far past his prime with a 2.69 GAA and .905 save percentage unlikely to have led many fantasy owners to a title this year.
Ward stopped 35 of 39 shots in Saturday's shootout loss to the Blues. Ward came up with a few big saves during regulation and overtime, but ultimately couldn't stop Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko in the shootout. The 33-year-old has had a rocky season and has given up nine goals in his last two outings. Ward turned in some strong showings this year, but his inconsistent play and .905 save percentage left lots to be desired.
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