The Hurricanes Current Goalies
Goal-tending is important. Teams flourish playing with a hot goalie, and fall apart against an opposing goalie standing on his head. After another disappointing season the Carolina Hurricanes are going to have to make a decision on their three goalies from last season’s roster.
Cam Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes have gone hand in hand since his rookie campaign in 2006.
In that season the Hurricanes won the cup, and Ward was given the Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Since leading the Hurricanes to the team’s only Stanley Cup championship, Ward has had his ups and downs. Ward’s best season was in 2011, when he was selected for the NHL All Star team (the All Star game was hosted by the Carolina that season). Ward has battled through injuries recently, and only played in 47 games during the past two years. This season he started in 28 games, and went 10-12-6. He had a 3.06 GAA and an .898 save percentage recording no shut outs. Ward has been in the league since he was 19 years-old and turned 30 this year.
Anton Khudobin came over to Carolina after being a successful back up in Boston. Khudobin was the strongest goalie on the Hurricanes this season. He started in 34 games and went 19-14-1. He was fifth in the league with a .926 save percentage and was 12th with a 2.30 GAA.
The 28 year-old Russian Khudobin was signed to a one-year contract by Carolina in 2013, and earned a contract extension in March. He was also quoted in an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov questioning if the goalie was at a stopping point in his career. In the same article he said that “no one is counting him out” as coming back and being the starting goalie for an NHL team.
The third option in net this season was Justin Peters, who was thrust into the back up role when Cam Ward was injured. Peters started a five game home stand stretch where he went 4-0-1. He ended the season 7-9-4 with a 2.50 GAA and .920 save percentage.
After the strong home stand he spent the rest of the season on the bench. Peters is an unrestricted free agent, and his fate depends on what goalies the Hurricanes decide to move forward with in the upcoming season.
Which Two Goalies Will They Choose?
With all three goalies seeing time this season the likely option is choosing two of them and going forward from there. Cam Ward is scheduled to make $6,300,000 next season and Anton Khudobin will receive $2,250,000 from his newly signed extension. The Hurricanes, and new GM Ron Francis are tasked with putting a winning team on the ice, and a good goaltender is the best place to start.
Ward has struggled recently and doesn’t resemble the Conn Smythe winner from 2006. He also dealt with the injury bug in the past two seasons.
Khudobin has proved that he has what it takes to be a starting goalie in the league, and played well enough to get a decent contract extension. The one thing that he lacks is playoff experience.
Keeping both Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin on the team will require spending a good amount of money on the two goalies, but both goalies sharing time in net could make for a solid tandem.
Trading one of the goalies for some more tools on defense is another option. The team might also want to use one of their goalies to get some more help on offense by possibly acquiring a forward that might give Jordan Staal some more offensive help.
Having both goalies to start the season gives the Hurricanes options in case one of them struggles. Making it to the trade deadline with both goalies could also help push the Hurricanes over the edge if they find themselves in the playoff race. The playoffs and eventually the Stanley Cup are goals for every team in the league, and Ron Francis and the Hurricanes organization will have to make some tough choices regarding current players and their contracts this off-season.