Former Notre Dame goaltender Cal Petersen announced via the school’s Twitter account that he has made the decision to leave the NCAA and continue his career at the professional level. Now that he has made that decision; Petersen has another choice before he makes his first steps in the professional hockey world. The Waterloo, Iowa native can sign with the Buffalo Sabres by June 30th. The team drafted him in the fifth round (129th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. After that, the 2016-2017 Hockey East First Team All-Star can become a free agent and sign with any team.
With the announcement that Petersen would be turning pro, there is a good chance that he will listen to all offers. If it was known right away that he would be signing with the Sabres, Petersen and the team would have most likely made a statement saying that Petersen would be leaving Notre Dame to sign with the Sabres.
The Boston Bruins had just gone through such a scenario with another Fighting Irish alum Anders Bjork. Bjork immediately signed with the Bruins. There was no announcement that he would be turning pro.
Where Cal Petersen Could End up
This may seem to be unsettling news at first to Sabres fans. However, Buffalo News’ John Vogl shares a ray of hope. After chatting with Jack Eichel he shared some interesting news.
Jack Eichel gave Cal Petersen an “earful” on benefits of joining Sabres. Signing deadline looms for Giorgio Estephan https://t.co/aEAcbiBz0K
It is possible that Cal could circle back to the Sabres after hearing what other teams are offering. At his skill level, he could be starting for the Rochester Americans next season. With Linus Ullmark being expansion eligible, there may be room for him to move up in the organization if Vegas were to select Ullmark.
However, the stellar play of Robin Lehner this past year and the comments made by newly hired general manager Jason Botterill could hinder Petersen from continuing his professional hockey career with the team that drafted him.
“I have no problem starting next season with [Lehner] in goal. There are more pressing needs. I liked what I saw from him when he won the Calder Cup.” — Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill told Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet
It would not be a surprise if Cal Petersen were to sign with the Blackhawks. Petersen made it clear in his piece with the Players Tribune that he has personal ties and connections to the city.
The Blackhawks have the room to take him in as well. With Scott Darling traded away to Carolina and no real standout goaltender prospect in the pipeline, Petersen is almost guaranteed a starting job in the AHL with a strong chance of becoming the backup.
The only problem here for Cal Petersen is that the Blackhawks still have Corey Crawford under contract for three more years. Depending on his play, Cal could be fighting for a starting job after a couple of years under his belt which would prompt Chicago to possibly trade Crawford. Crawford has been their guy; however, for some time and may not be surpassed.
The Avalanche currently have Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard under contract, and like the Blackhawks, have no real standout goalie waiting in the system. Neither Varlamov or Pickard hold a no-movement clause meaning that one will have to be exposed come expansion draft time.
If the Vegas Golden Knights were to an Avalanche goalie, Petersen could slot in to replace him. Considering the possibility Varlamov remains with Colorado, Petersen could find himself competing for a starting job with a goalie who will be in the last year of his contract come the 2018-2019 season. With a rebuild underway Varlamov could be on his way out. If Pickard is the one to stay, the Avs could potentially play a tandem of Pickard and Petersen with each goalie playing a similar amount of games.
This really all depends on Vegas taking a goalie from the Avalanche during the expansion draft. The draft will happen before Petersen make his decision if he chooses not to sign with the Sabres. This could be a longshot though.
Petr Mrazek‘s inconsistent play brought up potential trade whispers this season around the trade deadline and with Jimmy Howard already on a no-movement clause Mrazek could be on his way out via expansion draft or a trade. The Red Wings do have Jared Coreau coming up from the minors, but the addition of Cal Petersen would not hurt, especially with Jimmy Howard only having two years left on his contract.
Coreau and Petersen could battle it out to see who earns the honor of replacing Jimmy Howard once his contract runs out. But, once again, the scenario can only happen if the Wings are committed to moving Mrazek.
The expansion draft plays a key role in Cal Petersen’s decision. The goalies that are selected could create a whole in an organization that Cal could easily fill. Other teams like Philadelphia or Vancouver that will be needing to fill a backup role this summer could potentially attract Cal Petersen. Although, both have already stellar goalie prospects in Thatcher Demko and Carter Hart.