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The Carolina Hurricanes have had a messy goaltending situation in need of resolution all season long. Up until to this point, Rutherford has ignored the problem.
He now has one final chance to make a decision.
Anton Khudobin is now, smartly, secured for another two years at a reasonable $2.25 million cap hit, following the Tuesday announcement of his contract extension, per the team's official website. His deal now leaves both Cam Ward and Justin Peters even more likely to be shipped out of town.
The easy route would be to ship off a neglected Peters for a late-round draft pick with almost no chance of materializing into an NHL player in the future. It's only fair to the former second-round pick that he at least gets a backup role somewhere, either Raleigh or elsewhere.
The hard, yet likely more rewarding, route would be to part ways with Ward, a 2006 Stanley Cup winner and longtime franchise cornerstone, and simply accept the best offer on the market.
With a gag-worthy $6.3 million cap hit through 2016 and six wins and an .891 save percentage in 20 starts this season, the return Ward would garner based on legacy and name value on the market likely exceeds his declining on-ice capabilities. But Rutherford has always held a great respect for honoring past contributions and team attachment and may not have the decisiveness to deal No. 30.
Speculative trade destinations for Peters include the Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets. Speculative trade destinations for Ward include the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.