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Canes Bolster Goaltending Depth with Pogge

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Ed. note:
will do my best to catch up on these as they happen.  Walker article coming.

The Hurricanes bolstered their young goaltending depth today, acquiring 23-year-old Justin Pogge and a fourth-round pick in either 2010 or 2011 from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Aaron Ward.

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The return is a healthy one for Ward, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season and found himself as the odd man out following the acquisition of Alex Picard three weeks ago. After established No. 1 Cam Ward, the Hurricanes now have Pogge, 23-year-old Justin Peters and 21-year-old Mike Murphy in the organization.

Pogge is a former third-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2004 who was considered an big-time prospect after picking up the Canadian Major Junior Goaltender of the Year award in 2006 (an award won by Cam Ward two years earlier). However, the Leafs were apparently unhappy with his progress, sending him to Anaheim in August of 2009 in exchange for a conditional draft pick.

In Pogge, Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice hopes he can salvage another of his former prospects with the Leafs, similar to what the team hopes they have done with Jiri Tlusty

“We think we have the perfect guy in Tom Barrasso to work with a guy like Justin Pogge,” said Maurice. “He’s big, he skates real well and he handles the puck. The first time I saw him skate when he was in Toronto, I thought that this guy looks exactly like Tom Barrasso. He’s a very fit man, and there’s some talent there. It’s a project for him, but I think we have the right guy to work with him.”

Although Aaron Ward’s name has been in trade rumors ever since he was placed on waivers in mid-December, it was clear that he was not completely comfortable with the idea of being traded today. Although he’s switching teams for the fifth time, this marks the first time he has been traded at the deadline.

“It’s too early to start thinking about what I think right now,” he said in the Hurricanes locker room today prior to leaving the team. “It’s just shocking, and you have to pack up everything and have the five-hour ride cross-country.”

Ward is not expected to be in Anaheim in time for the Ducks’ game against Colorado. He will instead focus on getting there in time for Thursday’s practice, which will give him a little more time to get some of his personal affairs in order – something which should not be easy given that he has three young children.

“I’ve got an 11-month-old, and this will be the third out of three kids where I’ve missed them walking,” he said. “That’s the unfortunate part of the game.”

As far as reflecting on his most recent stint with the Hurricanes, Ward acknowledged an arduous first few months but felt that he had come on of late.

“I had a rough October and November to say the least, and that left a lot of sour taste both in my mouth and in a lot of people who watch the game,” he said. “It’s improved in December, January and February obviously, because I’m in a position now to get dealt. If you’re playing poorly, no one is going to want to acquire you and bring you onto a team to, in this circumstance, make the playoffs.”

Anaheim is currently three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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