Canes' Ward back on ice

Carolina's goalie, who was injured on Nov. 7, is feeling good in practice and says he is close to being game ready.

Staff WriterDecember 4, 2009 

— Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward faced practice shots from his teammates Thursday for the first time since the freak injury that sidelined him on Nov. 7.

Before even seeing a puck, Ward spent the two previous days working solely with Canes assistant coach Tom Barrasso.

"Yesterday was the first time I saw a puck [in drills with Barrasso]," he said. "Today we made progress, and I feel pretty good out there."

Ward's knee was cut by a skate while facing the Columbus Blue Jackets, the first of two similar accidental injuries that afflicted the Hurricanes this season. More recently, in Monday night's 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, the Hurricanes lost defenseman Joe Corvo for an estimated two to three months. Corvo suffered a deep cut on his right leg from Washington defenseman Karl Alzner's skate during a collision along the boards.

Both players' injuries could have been worse, and Carolina coach Paul Maurice said he is thankful for the progress Ward has made in just three days of practice. Maurice said he remains hopeful that Ward will be ready for Wednesday's road game against the New Jersey Devils.

In practice Thursday, Ward appeared mobile and limber.

"There's something to be said for talent," Maurice said. "He still gets in front of it. He's technically so good, so quick, that even when he's not moving on one leg, he's good."

Ward said he's close to being game ready.

"There's not too many movements in my game where I'm limited because of motion because of my knee," he said. "There's still a little bit of slight pain, but that should be going away in no time."

The rest of the team remains a bit banged up, however, and after a day off, only 13 skaters practiced at the RecZone on Wednesday. That number was up to 16 skaters on Thursday.

"We're closing in on 20," Maurice said. "When we get to Saturday, I guarantee you we're going to have [a full roster]. We've got a couple of injured guys out there that aren't affected by skating, so they're able to get through it."

Sergei Samsonov, Brandon Sutter and Ray Whitney were among those back on the ice after sitting out Wednesday's practice. Still missing from the ice (but seen inside the RBC Center on Thursday) were forwards Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose.

Maurice said he expects LaRose and Jokinen to be in Saturday's lineup against the Vancouver Canucks.

"The longer we give them, the closer we can get them to 100 percent," Maurice said.

With Corvo out, the team recalled Bryan Rodney from the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League on Thursday to fill the sixth defensive spot. "He's a good skater, a good puck mover," Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said. "He can help the power play a little bit. He's the player the coaches were most comfortable with when we talked about what our needs are right now."

Rodney has been shipped back and forth several times this season, which neither Rutherford or Maurice sees as a bad thing. The 25-year-old defenseman from London, Ont., has played in six games with the Hurricanes already, earning a pair of assists with an average of 18:27 of ice time per game.

With the River Rats this season, he has a goal and five assists in 16 games.

Canes trade prospect

Carolina traded 18-year-old prospect Philippe Paradis, their first-round pick in June's NHL draft, to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday for Jiri Tlusty, a 21-year-old left winger .

Rutherford is hopeful that Tlusty will be in the team's top six next year. He's much further along in his development than the younger Paradis, according to Rutherford.

Tlusty has spent most of the last three-and-a-half seasons with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. This season, he has eight goals and seven assists in 19 games. Last season with the Marlies, he appeared in 66 games, scoring 25 goals and 41 assists.

Born in Slany, Czechoslovakia, Tlusty has been with the Maple Leafs' organization since Toronto selected him with the 13th pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

In the 2007-08 season, he appeared in 58 games with the Leafs, getting 10 goals and six assists. In 14 games with the Leafs last season, he had four assists and no goals. This year, he's seen action in only two NHL games, notching no points.

"He hasn't done it at the NHL level, but he was put into that situation at a very young age," Rutherford said.

Paradis, selected by the Hurricanes with the 27th pick in the first round of this year's draft, is playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he has been the last two seasons. He has scored eight goals and 11 assists in 26 games this season.

javier.serna@newsobserver.com or 919-836-4953

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