Assessing Cal Petersen’s future with the Philadelphia Flyers

Sep 29, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen (40) makes a save during the third period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen (40) makes a save during the third period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Flyers have been making some cuts to their roster; trimming it down and assigning players to their AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Among the cuts was newly acquired goaltender Cal Petersen. This is most likely not good news for Petersen. Despite recording a decent showing during the preseason against the Bruins, he is not going to make the club. So what does his demotion mean for him, and more importantly the Flyers, moving forward.

Petersen was hoping to turn a new page here in Philadelphia after failing to achieve the promise that he had once showed in Los Angeles. At one time, he looked like the heir apparent to Kings legend Jonathan Quick. After some struggles last year, he was sent packing to the AHL and was tossed in a trade with Philadelphia as part of the Ivan Provorov deal.

However, Petersen’s demotion to Lehigh Valley has a lot of interesting moving parts. It could be a reflection on him or it could be a sign of other moving parts that we may not be aware of yet. Let’s examine some of what could be up with Petersen.

Waiver Issues & the Flyers’ bank account

Technically, before he made it to Allentown, he had to clear waivers. This he did successfully and there is a very good reason for that. He has a cap hit of $5 million. That made it very unlikely that anyone would pick him up. It’s too much money for a goalie who hasn’t shown any consistent play in the pipes at any level recently. Nobody is going to claim him, and nobody did. A cap hit like that will also make it rather hard to trade him. Unless someone has just lost several goalies and needs an NHL-proven contingency plan, it ain’t gonna happen. Philly is stuck with him and his ginormous salary for the next two years, barring a buyout or cap dump of their own.

To put it in perspective, think about how many times Felix Sandstrom was sent through the waivers back to Lehigh Valley last year. His cap hit was just $775,000. If nobody is taking a chance on him, there isn’t any team out there that will pick up an expensive back up. Sandstrom was cheap, but inconsistent in net. Only someone truly desperate will put a claim on inconsistent and expensive goalies.

Petersen and Sandstrom can be used by the Flyers at both the NHL and AHL levels. They can pass through waivers with seemingly no problem. However, Philly has another goalie who can still be moved down without going through the waiver process, but not much longer. His name is Sam Ersson.

Ersson named Flyers backup goalie

First of all, the demotion of a veteran like Petersen means that the club is really high on Ersson. He began to impress the higherups in the Flyers organization last year. He grew a lot on a bad team and showed that he may have what it takes to play at the NHL level. He’s played well during the preseason. Maybe they see him as a backup or maybe he will tag-team with Carter Hart for playing time.

The Flyers re-signed Ersson to a two-year deal this summer. Clearly management wants to take a chance on him early and see how he responds this season. As stated earlier, he still can pass through waivers – unlike Petersen or Sandstrom – without having a team make a claim on him. Perhaps the Flyers were hoping someone took Petersen. They don’t want to waste sending Ersson down now, only to be hindered by future moves where they could possibly need move him and hope nobody claims him.

Ersson seems to be a piece of whatever the Flyers’ future is going to be. Giving him more time to work it out over the next few days in camp seem to be where he will be at for right now. He could be the heir apparent to Carter Hart. Speaking of Hart…

Are the Flyers considering trading Hart?

Perhaps this isn’t about Petersen. Maybe it is about Hart. Stashing Petersen in the AHL, for now, gives them a chance to work a deal out with someone else. Banking on the fact that nobody may pick him up, they can move him down and work out a trade to move Hart. Because of this, they can acquire something/someone else (prospects, draft picks, other players, salary cap dumps, etc.) and bring Petersen up later, taking the odd chance that nobody would put in a claim on him in the meantime.

There have been rumors about the Flyers trading Hart all summer long. If the Flyers do end up moving him, they can always easily call Petersen up. Petersen can equally share net duties with Ersson or back him up. There is also the possibility that Petersen could serve as a mentor to Ersson in a fashion similar to what Brian Elliott and Martin Jones did for Hart.

As of right now, there are no indications that Daniel Briere is trying to move Hart during camp. However, there are not not any rumors against that as well. Petersen could serve as an insurance policy there. Likewise, if Hart is suspended for any discipline regarding the Hockey Canada investigation, then Petersen is again safely tucked away at Lehigh while Ersson is getting a chance to star in the NHL.

Petersen’s future with the Flyers

Considering that Petersen had recently traded for him, it is rather interesting that the Flyers put him on waivers. Even if he had one good game in preseason, maybe there was something that Briere and John Tortorella didn’t like. He may have just not shown them enough.

It’s probably not hard to imagine that Brian Boucher, even if he is just a game analyst, probably has been asked for his opinion of the Flyers’ goalies. A former goalie with his pedigree, and a teammate to many of the Flyers management, would have a lot of advice to give. If he sees something in Petersen that isn’t good, those former teammates of his would listen.

Even if Hart isn’t traded right now (if at all), Petersen might be better suited to have a steady job with the Phantoms instead of being stashed away on the bench. Playing a few times a week in a system similar to what he would see in Philly could help get him comfortable and acclimated. If Hart or Ersson get hurt, he could then get called up and be ready to slide in with no loss of confidence. He could stay fresh and work on whatever it is he needs to work on instead of getting rusty on the bench.

Next. Flyers place Wade Allison on waivers. dark

Whatever happens, the puck is in Petersen’s rink now. Time is running out on him. He’s too expensive and not consistent enough to warrant a roster space. If he wants to stay in Philadelphia, now is the time to prove you want it. Go to Allentown, report to the Phantoms, and play lights out hockey. If he does, he could be back sooner than we know.