It’s weird to say that any goalie that posts a save percentage sub .905 at this point in the season could be considered an MVP for a team. However, given the Scott Darling situation (.885 save percentage), Cam Ward is extremely important for a limited amount of team success.
Ward provided a solid backbone between the pipes for Carolina for most of the season. He led the team to a 19-13-4 record when he’s in net. Yet, even Ward saw a dip in his performance of late. Carolina’s defense is partly to blame for that recent trend.
In a time where the Canes were planning on phasing Ward out of Raleigh, due to some declining production in recent years, the opposite actually happened. A long-term commitment to Darling means Ward’s presence is that much more significant. He’s needed now more than in the past few years.
If the Canes continue to try for Darling to be the long-term answer between the pipes, they’ll need Ward to provide a safety net of sorts. However, the best solution for this team, at least to start off next season, is to use Ward as the starting goalie. He earned that role after this season’s efforts.