This has been the summer of goalies for the Philadelphia Flyers. Never in my 44 years have I seen an offseason with so much controversy and speculation surrounding the netminders of my beloved hockey team. The Flyers drafted perhaps the best goaltender in the draft with Carson Bjarnason, and then followed that up buy drafting stud Belarusian goalie Yegor Zavragin. While all of this has been going on, the Flyers, the IIHF, and the KHL have been going back and forth over the contract status of Ivan Fedotov.
And, while there is no indication that the Flyers are actively shopping Hart anywhere, there isn’t any indication that they aren’t trying to do that either. Lost in the shuffle in all this mess is newly acquired goaltender Cal Petersen.
Who’s Petersen? Oh yeah. He’s the guy the Flyers got a as a toss-in salary dump during the Ivan Provorov trade. He was the backup goalie, and then third goalie, for the Los Angeles Kings after he blew his chance to be their starter. When Kings’ legend Jonathan Quick couldn’t do it anymore, they hoped Petersen would pick up the stick and go to work. He did not.
It wasn’t that he was bad. In 2021-22, he won 20 of 25 starts with a save percentage of .897 and a GAA of 2.89. That’s not terrible; especially on a team that’s been mediocre, at best, as the Kings have been. It’s similar to what Hart has been producing. The problem is that Petersen was 27 when he put up those stats, and Hart just recently turned 25.
Petersen will be 29 when the new NHL season begins. While that isn’t a bad thing, you would’ve expected a goalie at his age to be seasoned and ready to go to work. Last year, as the heir apparent to Quick’s legacy in net, especially with Quick battling injuries, he was sent down to the AHL with just 10 starts on the year.
That’s the troubling thing. Why did the Kings give up on him so quickly? Was his confidence shot? After all, goalies are a funny breed, but then again you’d have to be to stand up and face 20 to 30 80+ mile-per-hour shots all night long. If their confidence is gone, they struggle mightily. Was he stubborn and uncoachable? It’s unclear.
What is clear is that the Kings wanted him gone. With him exiled to the minors, the Kings rallied and made the playoffs. That’s not a good sign for Petersen.
Petersen is also the highest paid goalie on the Flyers right now; earning just over $1 million more than starter Hart. Heading into his last year under contract, I can’t imagine that Hart is excited that his backup is making more than he is; although that is LA’s fault for giving him that contract. Petersen’s contract also has two more years left on it.
Some guys just need a change of scenery. After all, Bernie Parent was just average, at best, in Boston before he joined the Flyers. Full disclosure though, Petersen is not Parent. And with the Flyers loaded at the position with Bjarnason, Zavragin, and perhaps Fedotov, in their future, and Felix Sandstrom and Sam Ersson waiting to make their marks in the NHL, does Petersen even have a role with the team?
To be fair, this could be his last chance to show what he has. If he can turn it around and steal the starting job from Hart or keep Sandstrom and Ersson at bay by being a reliable backup, he might be able to earn a contract either in Philly or elsewhere. Either way, his situation is worth keeping an eye on. If he plays well enough, he could make Hart expendable. If he plays poorly, he could be sent down to Lehigh Valley and watch Sandstrom or Ersson take his spot on the bench.