By Jim Hagerty
CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks could be one step closer to solving their backup goaltender issue as sources say they’ve agreed to terms with Hurricanes veteran Cam Ward.
Ward, 34, has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract he’ll sign when free agency officially begins July 1.
The news comes two days after The Athletic’s Scott Powers reported that Chicago was interested in signing Ward when brass learned he’d likely be leaving Carolina where he split time between the pipes with former Blackhawk Scott Darling. There was also speculation that Chicago was interested in bringing Darling back but those rumors were squashed as it became clear Darling, 29, was poised to be the full-time starter and that the club was not going to offer Ward a deal. Darling also now comes with $4 million salary cap hit.
Ward logged a 23-14-4 record with a 2.73 goals-against average (GAA) and .906 save percentage in 43 games with Carolina last year. The 2002 first-round pick made his NHL debut on October 5, 2005, and has spent his entire career with the Canes. He won the Conn Smythe trophy and Stanley Cup as a rookie.
With Ward’s $2.5 million hit, the Blackhawks will have $6.7 million in cap space.
The signing will also come after the Blackhawks traded goaltender J-F Berube to Columbus for forward Jordan Schroeder. Berube was primarily an AHL goalie but posted a 3-6-1 record and 3.78 GAA with Chicago.
And Ward’s deal will leave Chicago with five goalies. Corey Crawford is expected to return by training camp. Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia are signed through next season. Kevin Lankinen signed a two-year deal in May.
Forsberg was Crawford’s backup last season but left much to be desired. He went 10-16-4 and was one of five guys, including emergency goaltender Scott Foster and 32-year-old Jeff Glass, to get shot with Crawford on the shelf. Glass isn’t expected back while Foster is an Oak Park accountant. R.