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With Cam Ward missing almost two months with an injury, backup goaltenders Justin Peters and Dan Ellis (pictured) both struggled under the heavy workload. What will become of the Hurricanes' netminding unit this summer?
Cam Ward is coming back from a serious injury. Justin Peters must rebuild his confidence after another shaky campaign. Dan Ellis is facing an expiring contract. John Muse and Mike Murphy, AHL goaltenders, are both far from NHL-ready.
In terms of overall depth, the Hurricanes may have the most uncertain netminding situation in the NHL.
Ward's March 3 MCL sprain, which ended his season disastrous early, dialed up the pressure on backups Peters and Ellis beyond the survivable point for almost two months. Ellis, almost 33, finished the year with a 6-8-2 record, .906 save percentage and 3.13 GAA; Peters, 26, finished the year with a 4-11-1 record, .891 save percentage and 3.46 GAA.
The more experienced and slightly more proven Ellis would likely be preferable for next year's backup job, but the current contractual comparison contradicts that. “I do think that there is a little bit of an advantage there for Dan Ellis with the way he played and even at times the way he played in the second half," Rutherford told team reporter Michael Smith last week. "But Peters is under contract, he gave us some good games and he’s in the organization.”
Outside of the Ellis vs. Peters controversy, the health of franchise cornerstone Ward must also be of at least some concern. The 29-year-old goalie has, due to injuries, missed large chunks of two of the past four years.
The entire 'Canes organizational goaltending unit should be examined frequently throughout the offseason.