Originally posted on Puck Drunk Love  |  Last updated 1/19/13
In the hierarchy of the NHL's starting goaltenders, where does Cam Ward fit? Well, for those who live by the theory of "what have you done for me lately," probably not very high. But to those who so heavily base their opinion on recent results rather than contributing factors, I pose a query. Can you name more than a few players (other than Ward) from last year's Carolina Hurricanes? It's okay, I'll wait. . .. ... Alright, time's up. If you got more than Ward, Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, congratulations. After taking your blindfold off, and a quick Google search, it doesn't take a genius to realize that Carolina was in shambles in 2011-12. But seven months later, general manager Jim Rutherford may have pieced together a well-balanced roster that might make you reconsider your thoughts on them and their franchise goaltender. Rutherford's signing of Alexander Semin, the (don't say enigmatic, don't say enigmatic...) perplexing, ex-communicated Capitals winger gives Eric Staal a bonafide scoring threat on the wing, along with pesky Jeff Skinner.  He mortgaged the farm a bit to get Eric's brother Jordan from Pittsburgh, giving up not only the eighth overall pick in last June's draft, but also Brandon Sutter and defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin. In doing so, his message rang loud and clear throughout the Hurricanes organization: the time is now. Carolina's defensive corps , though anchored by veterans Tim Gleason and Jay Harrison, suffered through it's fair share of growing pains with Justin Faulk and Jamie McBain over the last few seasons. What was undoubtedly the team's Achillies' heel a year ago will only get stronger, which will only make Ward's job easier. Oh right, and about that Ward fellow. Remember this? Yeah, he'll make a big save or two if you need it. But in the last few years, it's been rather hard to identify the one or two big stops he's made, since his mates called on him to do so with such alarming frequency. In each of the last two seasons, Carolina has finished dead last in shots allowed per game. In fact, their winning percentage in 2011-12 when being outshot was .348. Ward desperately needed help in all three zones, and Rutherford went out and got it for him. For all that Jordan Staal may do offensively after finally stepping out of the shadow of two other-worldly talents in Pittsburgh, his play in his own zone may provide the most value to the Canes. He's known most for his penalty-killing prowess, but Staal's ability to adapt to different in-game situations made him such a valuable asset in Pittsburgh.  Everyone knows about the Staals, Skinner and Semin offensively, who are currently accepting applications for a clever nickname starting with the letter S, but players such as Jiri Tlusty and Jussi Jokinen give Carolina legitimate secondary scoring options. Any successful team needs forward depth as much as clutch goaltending, and Rutherford has stayed cognizant of that. Zac Dalpe and Victor Rask, currently playing at AHL Charlotte, may provide a shot in the arm if given the chance later on this season. Personnel aside, scheduling could play a significant role in their success as well. In a weak Southeast Division, the Hurricanes could do damage in a shortened schedule. They'll see the Capitals, Lightning, Panthers and Jets 18 times. Do any of those teams seem all that daunting to you? Me neither. Expect them to not only contend for their division crown, but to win it.  Who knows, come June we may be talking about a new team in the Stanley Cup discussion. We may even have a new candidate in the Vezina Trophy race. Maybe then you'll rethink your hierarchy. Maybe then mine will be vindicated. (Photo via Aery's Sports) [follow]
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NCAA frees Kansas blue chipper Cheick Diallo

Rockets hold in-season training camp in attempt to rebound from disastrous start

Kansas City Chiefs: No Jamaal Charles, no problem

How the Warriors can win 72 games

Frank Gifford suffered from CTE, family announces

Syracuse basketball gets one scholarship per year back


LeBron James says his back feels better than it did a year ago

Sean Payton on firing Rob Ryan: Status quo ‘would be madness’

Report: Blue Jackets listening to offers for Ryan Johansen

Report: Greg Hardy cancels club event after 'catching heat'

Jed Lowrie returning to Oakland after A's-Astros trade

Mike Pettine discusses Johnny Manziel’s present, future

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay his $2,500 fine

Jose Bautista's bat flip inspires a holiday sweater

The Kristaps Porzingis comparison project

What’s next for Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns?

Gisele Bundchen asks Tom Brady ‘all the time’ why he still plays football

Highlighting the biggest NFL games of Week 12

Greg Olsen calls Jason Witten 'the epitome of a pro'

Are Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux growing apart?

Stop sleeping on Giannis Antetokounmpo

Worst-case scenarios for end of college football season

Capitals, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis opposed to 'meddling'

Thanksgiving college hoops: An alternative to the NFL

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

Blue Jays fans create website in effort to keep David Price

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Mike Trout, four years in

Tom Brady on ‘Rex Ryan!’ line call: It’s ‘in the playbook’

Five NFL teams trending downward

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker