Though he has played outstanding hockey since being recalled out of desperation by the Los Angeles Kings, Cal Petersen is heading back to the minors. The team activated Jack Campbell from injured reserve today after he suffered no setbacks during his conditioning stint, and assigned Petersen back to the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
Petersen, 24, played in 11 games for the Kings while Campbell and Quick were out with meniscus injuries, and showed that he could potentially be a future starter for the team as he posted a .924 save percentage and went 5-4-1. While that record isn’t outstanding, he was behind the league’s lowest scoring team and one that finds itself in last place. Now that Quick and Campbell are back, Petersen will have to go back to starting in the AHL and wait for his next chance.
When that chance will come though is anyone’s guess. Quick is the obvious starter in Los Angeles for the time being, given his history as an elite goaltender in the league. Just last season he posted a .921 save percentage and dragged the Kings to the playoffs, only to see them unable to score in a whitewashing at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kings have a lot invested in Quick, as his current contract continues through 2022-23 and carries a $5.8MM cap hit.
Campbell meanwhile is only 26 himself and has turned his career around since moving to Los Angeles. The former top prospect is signed for just $675K this season and next, but has been great for the Kings in backup duty. In 13 games this year the 11th overall pick from 2010 has a .923 save percentage and is an extremely inexpensive option at the NHL level.
The question though, is whether the Kings could get anything of value for one of their NHL netminders and promote Petersen in his place. The 10-year extension that Quick signed in 2012 came with no trade protection at all, and being front-loaded as it is may be of some value to another team. He’ll earn $7MM next season before seeing his salary drop to $3.5MM or less in the final three years of the deal. If he’s playing at a championship level, perhaps a team takes a chance to see if they can squeeze another few playoff rounds out of him.
For now Petersen will have to be patient, something he understood when signing with the Kings. Originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres, Petersen left college early and waited to become an unrestricted free agent before picking Los Angeles for his first professional contract. He saw Quick ahead of him on the depth chart then, and he sees him still. There’s plenty of time for him to continue to hone his game, though he’ll be in a better situation this summer after getting his feet wet in the NHL. Petersen is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent, and should be able to secure a more lucrative deal given his obvious upside.