The Los Angeles Kings appear to have taken another step to fill out their goaltending pipeline, and they didn’t even have to use a draft pick or trade a guy to do it.
Cal Petersen, drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013, has opted to become a free agent instead of sticking with the team that picked him. And according to Jon Rosen and Bob McKenzie, he already knows where he’s signing.
This is a situation that pops up every so often with high-profile college prospects. The CBA allows for college players who are drafted and haven’t signed within four years to test free agency, given a couple conditions*. Most recently, Jimmy Vesey chose not to sign with the Nashville Predators in 2016 after being drafted in 2012, while Justin Schultz ditched Anaheim for the Edmonton Oilers in 2012 after being drafted in 2008. So expect Petersen to receive appropriate booing any time he faces the Sabres in Buffalo.
Enough about that, let’s talk about Cal.
Petersen attended Notre Dame for three seasons, posting back-to-back strong seasons after a merely decent freshman season and starting 90 straight games. His .926 save percentage in 2016-17 was 11th-best in the country, and he posted six shutouts in just 40 games for the Fighting Irish. He also served as their captain this season, as Notre Dame made the Frozen Four. Petersen got a little additional experience at the IIHF World Championships this year, as the third-string goaltender behind Jimmy Howard and Connor Hellebucyk.
Petersen was set to be the starter for the AHL’s Rochester Americans this season; in fact, Buffalo GM Tim Murray had reportedly promised him that gig if he signed. Instead, Petersen seems destined for the Ontario Reign, and even with Jeff Zatkoff signed for next season I’d expect Petersen to get a big chunk of the starts. (As we wrote yesterday, the Kings are “ready” to have Jack Campbell back up Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles.)
It’s a savvy move by the Kings, who clearly went after Petersen as soon as Petersen was given permission to talk with other teams. We look forward to getting a look at training camp and during the preseason, though we hope he isn’t needed in the NHL until 2018 or beyond.
*Here’s the full rule from the CBA (and thanks to Lighthouse Hockey for the text and an in-depth explanation). Petersen falls under 8.6 (c) (iv) (b), as he announced his intention to turn pro on May 31, one day before “the fourth June 1” cited in (a); conveniently, 30 days will put him at free agent status right at July 1.
8.6 (c) (iv)
If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19, who had received a Bona Fide Offer in accordance with Section 8.6(a)(ii) above, becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft and does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the later of:
(a) the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft,
or (b) thirty (30) days after NHL Central Registry receives notice that the Player is no longer a bona fide college student;
provided that **IF** the Player ceases to be a bona fide college student on or after January 1 of an academic year and the Player:
(1) is in his fourth year of college and has commenced his fourth year of NCAA eligibility,
or (2) is in his fourth year of college and is scheduled to graduate from college at the end of his fourth year, then in the circumstances described in (1) or (2), the Club shall retain the exclusive right of negotiation for such Player's services through and including the August 15 following the date on which he ceases to be a bona fide college student.