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.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
He’s straightforward about it, at least.
Sep 23, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Vladimir Sobotka might say that’s actually a big gap, though.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT
The jump to Xbox One and Playstation 4 has been bumpy.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT
“It’s nothing new to me.”
Sep 23, 2014, 4:51 PM EDT
That was quick.
Sep 23, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
Sep 23, 2014, 3:58 PM EDT
So, you know, hurry up and sign, kid.
Sep 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT
And Erik Karlsson’s the favorite to win the Norris.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT
Which will reportedly begin in September of 2016.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
First part of the two-part series starts in December.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Sep 23, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Who will Ted Nolan choose?
Sep 23, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
Courtesy a Beau Bennett high stick.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT
Incident occurred during last night’s win over the Rangers.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT
Lightning rookie will miss at least the first few games of the regular season.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT
He’s establishing what he expects early.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT
Is Detroit in for another injury-filled year?
Sep 23, 2014, 7:53 AM EDT
That’s a picture of Marguerite Moreau, who played Connie.
Sep 22, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT
Mitts were dropped. Frequently.
Sep 22, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT
Good start for a guy on a two-way deal.
- IIHF, NHL to meet next month to discuss World Cup (Updated) 0
- Caps unveil new Winter Classic jerseys 23
- Drouin out 3-4 weeks with fractured thumb 3
- On carrying three goalies, and which teams might be forced to do it 8
- Bettman: NHL won’t expand ‘just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry’ 10
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough 35
- Injuries piling up as preseason schedule begins 11
- Report: Fedorov denies contract offer was made to Johansen 8
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers 44
- Update: Drouin out with upper body injury, not expected to miss preseason 1
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers (44)
- Just how damaging are heated negotiations between Jackets, RFA Johansen? (38)
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough (35)
- Desjardins (a.k.a. not Torts) makes good first impression on Canucks (29)