The Preds re-signed Joel Ward on Wednesday to a two-year contract. NashvillePredators.com sat down with Preds Head Coach Barry Trotz to talk about Ward and what his re-signing means to the team for next season.
NashvillePredators.com: What does Joel Ward bring to the team?Barry Trotz:
I think he’s one of those players who is extremely important to us. He plays a lot of intangible minutes – power-play, penalty kill, last minute of a game. He’s a really good penalty killer. And because we have a lot of young forwards in the mix now, I think he’s a really good compliment. He makes our team better and I think he’ll continue to grow as a player himself; he’s a little bit of a late developer. I think he’s capable of doing what he did last year and maybe a little bit more. But he’s so important because of his flexibility. And he’ll be really good for the young guys; he brings a lot of intangibles – a good work ethic, great attitude, and plays the game with a lot of detail. Those are players that are very important to the development of a team.
We’re thrilled to death that Joel’s back … and he’s thrilled to be back. I talked to him after we signed him and I also talked to him yesterday and I know how much he wants to be here. - Preds Head Coach Barry Trotz
I think Joel was real important piece, just as we’re trying on some other guys. Steve Sullivan is a guy who obviously we’re still in the mix (to re-sign). Those are the guys that can really help the young guys moving forward.
Players grow at different rates. We think he’s still growing as a player. He took a long road to get to the National Hockey League, but he’s a good player and that’s why we’re happy to have him back.NP.com: Is Joel Ward more important to you for the offensive he brings or for his defensive reliability?Trotz:
It depends. I would probably say that Joel is a good compliment on the offensive part. I can play him on any line and he can add a dimension to compliment that group. I can put him in a head-to-head situation – maybe it’s a Legwand-Erat-Ward playing head-to-head against the top line of another team and he can give some stability to that line, while still having some offense. He’ll go to the hard areas. He has great puck protection skills. He can play that heavy game around the crease, behind the net, so he can do those things to be helpful on the offensive part.
But he’s a very reliable defensive forward; he’s going to be a real go-to guy for us late in games and in important situations. Maybe in some of the match-ups, be a defensive or offensive match-up. So I don’t think his role will change too much from how we used him last year.NP.com: As you look to build the team for next season and the future, is it nice to know that you have Ward signed for multiple years?
Yes, getting a guy like Joel for a couple of years is going to be a stabilizing type of guy for our hockey team. He comes to play every night, so that’s really important for a young developing team.
We really like our defense; it’s not only young, but it’s got some talent in that group. We love our goaltending. Getting a guy like Joel is going to help the next part of our team – our forwards – to continue to grow. Not only is he valuable to us on the hockey team, but he’s valuable to the community. He’s a really good community guy.
We’re thrilled to death that Joel’s back … and he’s thrilled to be back. I talked to him after we signed him and I also talked to him yesterday and I know how much he wants to be here.