LA Kings netminder Cal Petersen signed a three-year extension on Wednesday worth $15M. Here is why this is a good deal for both sides.
Cal Petersen was at one time considered the LA Kings‘ goaltender of the future. He is now the team’s goaltender of the present with the signing of his new three-year contract extension that carries an AAV of $5 million. Petersen still has one season left on his current deal at an AAV of $858,333, so the new contract will start in the 2022-23 season.
Petersen, who turns 27 on Oct. 19, was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. After being unable to come to terms with the Sabres, the University of Notre Dame product signed with the Kings as a free agent in 2017.
With the signing, he was almost immediately pegged as the team’s “goaltender of the future.”
Petersen made his debut in Los Angeles during the 2018-19 season and played in more games than incumbent starter Jonathan Quick during the abbreviated 2020-21 season. He finished that season with a record of 9-18-5 with a 2.89 GAA and a .911 save percentage. He has played in 54 games for his entire NHL career with an overall record of 19-25-6 with a 2.79 GAA, and a .916 save percentage.
The numbers do scream “elite goaltender,” and some might think $5 million per season is an over-payment. On the surface, this might be true, but there are other factors to consider.
Since playing his first NHL game for the Kings in 2018, the team has been struggling as a whole. In fact, for most of his starts, Petersen has been under siege with a barrage of shots. Despite this, he has kept the Kings in games they’ve had no business being in and outplayed Quick for a vast majority of the 2020-21 season. As the LA Kings improve, which is expected to begin this season, so, too, should Cal Petersen’s numbers.
It’s not just the potential for improvement that makes the new Petersen contract worthwhile. It also means that the LA Kings will have $10.8 million per season tied up in their goaltending over the two years between Petersen and Quick — and that’s a huge amount in a flat salary cap world. However, due to the way they are set up, the cap shouldn’t have an adverse effect on the Kings. The team still has just under $3 million in cap wiggle room for this season, and it gets even better next season — which will be the final year of Jonathan Quick’s current deal. The Kings will have over $24 million in cap space going into the next offseason, even with Petersen and Quick making a combined $10.8 million.
To make the cap situation even better, the team will have no “big ticket” free agents of their own to account for. So, if they choose to, they can still be a major player in the free-agent market. Clearly, the new Petersen contract will not hinder LA next season.
Lastly, the Cal Petersen contract extension stabilizes the goaltender position in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future. While their prospect pool is considered to be one of the finest in the NHL, the one position where the LA Kings lacks organizational depth is in goal. After Petersen and Quick, the depth chart is made up of Matt Villalta, Jacob Ingham, Garret Sparks, Lukas Parik, David Hrenak, and Juho Markkanen.
While the team has hopes that Villalta, Ingham, and/or Parik can challenge for a spot in Los Angeles in the near future, it is highly unlikely any of them will unseat Petersen as the starter anytime soon. It is much better to have Petersen under contract for the next four seasons than risk losing him to unrestricted free agency the upcoming season.