Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cam Ward to have conditioning stint with Checkers

The season of the high-profile cameos looks like it will continue this weekend for the Checkers.

According to Hurricanes President and General Manager, Jim Rutherford, Cam Ward will join the Checkers for their two-game set in Lake Erie on Friday and Saturday as part of a conditioning stint.

Ward (who had a lower-body injury) was back on the ice for the 'Canes for the first time since Dec. 31 on Thursday. Following the morning skate, Carolina coach Kirk Muller told reporters that the 29-year-old goaltender would head out to join Charlotte later tonight.

"It's important that he go down and play a couple of games with Charlotte," Muller told the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander. "I think that would be great for him for the simple reason, health-wise, that this is his first practice he's had. So we gave him the net for the full 40 minutes to get the timing and endurance back.

"The opportunity to go down there and play will get him in a good mindset. The biggest thing is. health-wise, that he can get through a game and he feels good and feels comfortable."

Ward has gone 6-7-5 in 19 appearances this season with the Hurricanes, while battling multiple injuries. The 2002 first-round pick (25th overall) has allowed 3.15 goals per game and has a .895 save-percentage.

Once Ward is fully healthy, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out in Raleigh with Anton Khudobin (9-4-0 since Ward went down) playing well and Justin Peters unable to re-join the Checkers without first clearing waivers.

Ward -- who last had a conditioning stint with Charlotte during the 2005-06 season -- joins a list of current and former NHL players that includes Ryan Murphy (currently with the Checkers), Khudobin, Peters, Elias Lindholm, Manny Malhotra and Rick DiPietro that have all seen time in Charlotte this year.

If Ward laces up on Friday, he will be the ninth goalie to start in net for the Checkers this season (Ward, Khudobin, Rob Madore, Rick DiPietro, Allen York, John Muse, Jesse Deckert, Mike Murphy, Peters). The previous franchise-record was five.