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Red and Black Hockey

Canes beef up defense with A-Ward

On Friday, the Hurricanes announced a trade that might not have been expected, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  They sent the disappointing Patrick Eaves and a fourth round draft pick in 2010 to the Bruins for former fan favorite Aaron Ward.  With this trade, Carolina takes on an extra $1.1M in salary, and the blueline just became a little crowded.  I’d say Frantisek Kaberle’s minutes are numbered and a buyout is imminent. 

In related news, the Bruins immediately put Patrick Eaves on waivers, with the intent of buying him out.  For the Bruins, this works out well short term because buying out Patrick eaves will cost them $500k for the next four seasons compared to buying out Ward, which would have cost them $825k for the next two seasons.  It’s more cash overall to buy out Eaves, but less right now. EDIT That’s completely wrong.  Read the comments to find out why.

Carolina, meanwhile, gets a familiar face and Ward gets to actually live in the Raleigh house that he bought back in 2006.

The media will have a lot of fun with this because Aaron Ward was at the center of controversy when he was on the receiving end of Scott Walker’s punch in game five of the Eastern Conference semifinals.  Now the two are teammates. 

Ward says that it’s all “water under the bridge” and that he’ll shake Walker’s hand when they see each other.

“It’s water under the bridge. I’m on his team now. ... There’s a lot of emotion in the playoffs, both in the media and playing the game. ... I’ll see Scott Walker when he comes in, shake his hand, tell him how grateful I am to be here, how excited I am to play with him, and it’ll be past.”

I expected Eaves to be traded, and while I’m not even a little bit surprised, I wasn’t expecting this.  Eaves’ salary would have been $1.4M this season and Ward’s will be $2.5M.  Obviously, this is an incurrence of $1.1M, but it will probably be a stepping stone to making some of that back.  Now that the blueline is becoming crowded, it almost certainly seals Frantisek Kaberle’s fate.  The Hurricanes have waived him twice and tried to trade him, but none of those have worked.  They’ve talked about, and will now almost definitely set in motion the process of buying him out.  His salary would be $2.2M.  If they can trade him, that would be outstanding.  If they have to buy him out, the cost would be $726k for the next two seasons. 

So…  If all of this goes down, this deal will “save” Carolina $374k in 2009-10.  Carolina is also being taken off the hook for the $1.7M salary that they would have had to pay Eaves in 2010-11.  This might be the best part of the deal. 

Eaves has yet to develop into the player that he was supposed to.  He shows flashes of goodness, but for the most part, it’s just been a frustrating year and a half with that kid.  His first two seasons in the league were pretty good.  He put up 29 (20/9) points in just 58 games of the 2005-06 season with the Sens.  The following season, he put up 32 (14/18) points in 73 games.  In 2007-08, he split time between the Sens and Canes, and his season total was a meager 15 (5/10) points in 37 games of an injury-riddled season.  Everyone expected him to have a breakout season in 2008-09, but he was instead a massive disappointment.  In 74 games, he put up just 14 (6/8) points.  He added three (1/2) more in the playoffs.

I can’t tell you how many times Canes fans and broadcasters have said things like “He’s so close to being there” or “any day now, he’s gonna bust out”.  Perhaps it’s too early to give up on him, but with the addition of Tommy Kostopoulos, there wasn’t much room for an underperforming injury prone guy making too much money.  Wherever he lands, I wish him luck.  He seems like a swell guy.

As for Aaron Ward…  Sure, some people said some unbecoming things about him following the whole ‘Punchgate” scandal, but he’ll have no problem acquitting himself to the fans here.  We already know him well, and most of us miss him.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: aaron+ward, carolina+hurricanes, patrick+eaves

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About Red and Black Hockey

David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science.  He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows.  Sometimes, all in the same day. 

David has contributed to CBC.ca for their Stanley Cup playoff coverage in 2006 and to the New York Times Slapshot blog for theirs in 2008. Red and Black Hockey was founded in July of 2005.