Joel Ward and his glorious behind are going to the San Jose Sharks.
The 34-year-old Ward signed a three-year $9.825 million for an annual salary cap hit of $3.275 million.
This is a per-year raise from Ward’s prior deal, a four-year contract signed with Washington that paid him $12 million overall. Ward was one of the clutch glue type players on the free agent market, along with new Caps forward Justin Williams. The latter actually saw his salary drop to $3.25 million over two years as an essential replacement for Ward.
How does Ward fit with the Sharks? He’s a big, powerful forward with a strong cycle game. These attributes would fit nicely on Joe Thornton’s wing. But they have yet another 30 something under contract into the second half of that decade for a lot of money. However, he should fit nicely in the puck possession system favored by new coach Peter DeBoer.
"Joel is a quality veteran player who can score but also plays an extremely hard-nosed brand of hockey," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "He meshes well with our core group of forwards and has a strong track record of playing his best hockey at crucial times of the season."
Said DeBoer in a statement:
"Joel is an identity player in that he plays exactly the way I want our team to play. He's big, strong, fast and hard to play against. That's exactly what we are looking for."
Ha, ‘identity player’ nice. I don’t know what that means, but each coach has his own lingo.
Ward had 19 goals and 15 assists last season in 82 games and nine points in 14 playoff games. He had 13 points in 12 playoff games in 2010-11 for the Nashville Predators. And his nickname is the ‘Big Cheese’ for reasons we don’t fully understand.
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