Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ward Looking to Bounce Back After Shaky Sophmore Season

Cam Ward seemed to crack under the pressure of being a full-time starter in the NHL last season. His below average save percentage of .899 proves my point. The Hurricanes are still confident in their young netminder though, and will continue to start him next season. Some fans blamed his play down the stretch as the reason why they did not qualify for the playoffs, but he was a little banged up, and was not used to playing a full NHL season. I would cut him some slack if I was a Hurricanes fan, after all, he did play a major role in the Stanley Cup championship of 06. He should be fine, so look for him, and the Hurricanes as a team to bounce back next season. John Grahame will be back next season as the backup, and should continue to be steady for the 'Canes through next season.

Michael Leighton was traded from Montreal to Carolina this offseason, mainly as insurance in case one goalie goes down. He played a little for Philadelphia last season, and held his own, but you will likely see him playing for Albany of the AHL once the season begins. The Hurricanes' biggest prospect in net a few years ago was Cam Ward, but now, as you know, he is in the NHL. That means the next biggest prospect they have is a kid named Justin Peters, who played for Albany last season. He didn't have the best of seasons, but they should see him improve enough to back-up Ward sometime in the future. The Hurricanes also have a prospect by the name of Daniel Manzato, who played for Basel of the Swiss Elite League last season. At 23 he is running out of time, but still may impress some people with his quick-as-lightning reflexes. He did not perform very well last season, but he has the tools to get better. I don't see him going far, but you cannot tell with some goalies. Many are late bloomers and you can really see them come alive in their mid-to-late twenties. I'm not giving up hope on Manzato, it's just that he can't make an NHL squad, or an AHL one for that matter, the way he is now.