Cam Ward expects to be Blackhawks’ backup but is ready to be their starter
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Add Cam Ward to the list of people who seem pretty confident fellow goalie Corey Crawford will be good to go in the fall.
‘‘I’m definitely going into it with the mindset that I’m there to support Corey,’’ Ward said Sunday after signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the Blackhawks. ‘‘I think very highly of Corey as a goaltender. I look forward to meeting him and being a partner with him. Certainly, I’m in that support role that, when called upon, I will try to do the best I can.’’
That said, while Ward is coming to the Hawks to be the No. 2, the primary reason the Hawks signed him was because he has proved capable of being a No. 1.
There were other goalies on the market coming off better seasons — Carter Hutton, for example, signed with the Sabres for three years at a $2.75 million cap hit — but none of them had the lengthy experience as a starter that Ward has. And considering Crawford has been sidelined with an injury in each of the last five seasons, including the last 47 games of last season with a head injury, the Hawks didn’t need a backup so much as a contingency plan.
‘‘Being a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, it’s not easy,’’ general manager Stan Bowman said. ‘‘There’s a lot of examples around the league of guys that were great in a limited role, and once you put them in that No. 1 role, it’s not easy to do. For that reason, we were looking to try to bring someone in that has a pedigree of being able to handle that.’’
Anton Forsberg was competent as Crawford’s backup early last season, but he struggled mightily as the No. 1 once Crawford was hurt. Forsberg was pulled from six starts and had a .907 save percentage in Crawford’s absence.
Of course, Ward had a .906 save percentage while splitting duties with former Hawks goalie Scott Darling on a lousy Hurricanes team last season. Ward’s last above-average season was in 2010-11, when he posted a .923 save percentage.
Boqvist on board
The Hawks signed defenseman Adam Boqvist, the No. 8 pick in the draft last week, to a three-year entry-level contract. Boqvist almost certainly won’t play in the NHL next season, but having him under contract gives the Hawks a larger say in his development this coming season, whether it’s in Sweden or in Rockford.
Not done yet?
Bowman didn’t rule out making trades during the summer once the dust settles on free agency. The Hawks have had talks with the Hurricanes about defenseman Justin Faulk in recent weeks.
‘‘We have had some discussions on various players, and nothing is close to happening,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘So as far as whether we would make a trade or not, I’m not sure the percentages on that. We’ll have a better idea as we get into the summer here and we see which free agents move where. There’ll be some teams that don’t get what they’re looking for, then they might be a little more open-minded to a trade.’’