May 8, 2011, 4:38 PM EDT
Although Ryan Kesler was a force once again last night, Joel Ward was even better as he lead a 4-3 Nashville Predators win. The little-known Predators forward is making a name for himself in the 2011 playoffs, with a surge that seats him in a tie for second place in playoffs scoring with 12 points.
There are two basic ways someone can look at this situation.
One side will view this as Ward’s game rising to a whole new level. Sure, that three point game was his best, but he scored 9 points in Nashville’s previous 10 games too. That’s not exactly the sign of a guy who just had one good night.
On the other hand, it’s easy to ponder the possibility that he might be a one-hit wonder. Ward has seven goals in the playoffs after scoring just 10 in the entire 2010-11 regular season. It’s hard to avoid comparisons to Fernando Pisani, a player who earned a big raise with one great playoff run before fading back into irrelevance.
(For the record, I think Ward will be more useful than Pisani even if his scoring output is limited because he can contribute more defensively.)
Like much of the hockey world, I can only speculate on Ward’s future. With that in mind, I decided to ask two great Predators bloggers for their take on the following questions about Ward:
Q: Is Joel Ward‘s red-hot run a sign of things to come or could he be a flash in the pan? Looking forward, what kind of impact will this run have on his contract negotiations? What price would you consider “too much” to wrap him up?
Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck had this response:
I think one of the worst mistakes a team can make is to radically change their appraisal of a player based on a playoff run. After all, as hot as Joel Ward is these days, he went scoreless over the last 7 games of the regular season, which were also important games that the Predators needed to win. That said, Ward is still an important player to the Preds, a steadying presence who can be used in almost any situation – besides being a stout penalty killer, he’s also been one of the Nashville’s top power play scorers (relative to his ice time) for the last three seasons. I’d hesitate to go much beyond the $2-2.5 million range in terms of annual salary on his next contract, though.
Buddy Oakes of Preds on the Glass doesn’t think Ward could produce this kind of offense with Nashville and expects similar contract demands.
I don’t see Ward’s increased scoring as a long-term trend that would be sustained throughout the regular season next year. If he were to sign with a team that placed him in a more offensive role, there could be some upside, but probably not if he decides to stay with the Predators and their defense-first system.
He is currently on the final year of a two-year contract that paid him $1.5 million per year. I think someone will be willing to pay him up to $2.5 million next year but I don’t think it would be the Predators. I think he likes it in Nashville and enjoys the Predators system so he may be willing to stay with the Preds for closer to $2 million.
So both Predators bloggers would be comfortable with a small raise, but Ward might be able to wrangle a little bit more out of a more short-sighted bidder. It’s unlikely that he would maintain this kind of scoring pace in the long haul – his 25 percent shooting percent is unsustainable – yet he could still be a valuable winger at a proper price.
It should be interesting to see how he plays with a bigger target on his back in Game 6 . His contract negotiations in July might be almost as interesting, though.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
He was a fourth-round pick by them in 2007.
Aug 1, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT
He’s a free agent after next season,
Aug 1, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
He had 17 points for Calgary last season.
Aug 1, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT
No real surprise, right?
Aug 1, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT
His stats and Stanley Cup victories have us perplexed.
Aug 1, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT
He’s gunning to make an impression on L.A.’s blue line corps.
Aug 1, 2014, 3:58 PM EDT
Teemu forever and ever and ever.
Aug 1, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT
He’s win the Cup twice and has two Olympic gold medals, but he hasn’t captured the Norris Trophy yet.
Aug 1, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
Montreal and the defenseman can still negotiate until the ruling, but no talks are scheduled.
Aug 1, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT
They’re trying to re-sign both of them this summer.
Aug 1, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT
They averaged 3.38 goals per game in the postseason.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
They still might avoid the ruling though.
Aug 1, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT
Sunny Mehta wrote two books on the card game, but he’s turned his attention to advanced statistics in sports.
Aug 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
His relationship with Panthers GM Dale Tallon made a big difference.
Aug 1, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
Will Los Angeles regret opting against a buyout?
Aug 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Taking a look at the 2014 champions on Friday.
Jul 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Lou Lamoriello says those SO struggles are “not a focus.”
Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
“It will help me down the road.”
Jul 31, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
Have fun making up captions with this one.
Jul 31, 2014, 7:39 PM EDT
The team estimates he’ll miss two weeks of on-ice training.
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- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame 64
- It’s back! PHT’s Team of the Day summer series starts tomorrow 9
- Pens sign Spaling — two years, $4.4 million 13
- Agent: Subban hasn’t told me to make him NHL’s highest-paid D 32
- Devils sign Greene to five-year, $25M extension 18
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million 47
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ 59
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 15
- Lindros, LeClair and Desjardins to be inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame (64)
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Marchand on Plekanec: ‘I hate him. I can’t stand him’ (59)
- Poll: Is Drew Doughty the best defenseman in the world? (58)
- Subban seeking $8.5 million in arbitration, versus the Habs at $5.25 million (47)