Cam Ward to Wild Not the Move to Make for the ‘Canes

Cam Ward to the Minnesota Wild? The pundits are starting to call for this move. Well, moves in sports are often cloaked in seeming goodness for the near-term. Hockey moves are no exception. As the trade deadline approaches, Carolina Hurricanes rookie GM Ron Francis has decisions to make about possible moves for his team. Cam Ward to the Wild is one that I hope he won’t make, as I think it would be questionable in the long run for the ‘Canes.

Where’s Wardo?

Cam Ward is arguably the backbone of the Carolina Hurricanes. He has regained the form that turned heads when the ‘Canes won the Stanley Cup in 2006. After a period a few season where he looked done, hurt, and mentally askew, he has returned to top form. Some might go as far as to say elite, but the baggage of the team around him may inhibit that characterization. I’d say that he’s one of the best in the NHL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LriZf4cDyeE

His vision this season has been better than in the recent past and his play has been outstanding. Currently he has a .914 save%, a 2.36 goals against average, and has faced 794 shots. None of his stats put him near the top of the current elite NHL goalies, but they are more than respectable. His work has made him the topic of trade speculation in recent weeks.

Wild moves for Cam?

The Minnesota Wild currently has two of the highest paid players in the league on their team. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are both knocking down $11 million this season. I wrote back in November that they are definitely worth it. Yet their team (and their coach) is melting down around them:

By the way, our prayers go out to the family of Zach Parise and his family on the loss of his father, J.P. Parise. The elder Parise passed away Wednesday after battling lung cancer. He was 73. The NHL lost one of its truly great competitors and representatives of the game:

There have been reports that the Wild need a goalie and have entertained the notion that

Carolina Hurricanes Cam Ward - Photo By Andy Martin Jr
Carolina Hurricanes Cam Ward – Photo By Andy Martin Jr

Cam Ward is their man. My colleague with The Hockey Writers, Dustin Nelson posted this great read on the game of Goaltender Roulette that might be played as the March trade deadline approaches. This is one of the moves that I would advise against.

Why not move Cam Ward?

In the Cardiac Cane a couple of days ago, Brett Finger wrote about the Wild’s interest in Cam Ward. He noted that moving Ward would signal strongly that Ron Francis is going all-in for Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid. In the right deal, moving Cam Ward could free up a lot of cap space and position the team to commit to a program of rebuilding. But, is this the right move for the Carolina Hurricanes?

The crux of the matter, in my opinion, is that the Hurricanes are not likely to get the kind of value that they need in exchange for Cam Ward. The Star Tribune featured an article on January 7th advocating why the Minnesota Wild need to go after Ward. This statement in the post stood out to me and makes my point:

“I can only assume that it would involve at least one high draft pick and some young talent.”

At least one high draft pick? Some young talent? Well, I guess if that is what the market is willing to yield for a goalie having a great year. But, the pattern that Carolina has been in over the past few years lends itself to an image of futility.

Former general manager Jim Rutherford did not give the impression that he had a clear vision for what the team should look like. Friday, GM Ron Francis had this to say:

“…the team has to be careful with Ward, who has a no trade clause.”

He also noted that he free agent market does not look promising for goalies. At least Ronnie is not unaware that he has an asset that should be worth a great deal, if Cam Ward were willing to go. Also, Anton Khudobin had a great year last year, but is he ready to be a starter?

If Ward is dealt, the Hurricanes would also be hoping to draft a McDavid or Eichel, but could find themselves in the position of needing a goalie. Is that really what they want to do at this point?

Not Wild

If Cam Ward were to suddenly be wearing a Wild sweater, would that make them an immediate contender for the playoffs? Currently they are at the bottom of the Central Division. Adding Ward would help their goalie situation. But, the top teams in the West are very, very good.  It is questionable that – from Cam Ward’s point of view – the move would get him in playoff contention.

Would it be in his best interest? Only he can answer that question. But, if the move would not have immediate playoff implications, I’m not thinking Cam Ward is moving. Stay tuned.