After allowing four goals on 16 shots last night in what ended up a 9-8 loss to the Seattle Kraken, Cal Petersen has been placed on waivers according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The Los Angeles Kings netminder has been brutal this year, posting an .868 save percentage through his first ten appearances. He is in the first season of a three-year, $15MM contract extension signed in the fall of 2021.
The Petersen story is an interesting one. Selected 129th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013, he would go back to the USHL for a year after his draft, before heading to Notre Dame. Starring for the Irish for three years, he decided to leave school early and pursue a professional career. Petersen would ultimately decide not to sign with the Sabres and became a free agent, able to choose his destination.
Los Angeles is where he landed, which at the time seemed a bit of an odd choice. The team already had Jonathan Quick installed as the full-time starter and Jack Campbell was starting to come into his own as the backup. It appeared as though Petersen would be blocked from the NHL net for a while.
Because of injuries and poor play, however, it wouldn’t be long before Petersen was making his debut. In his second pro season, he played 11 games for the Kings and posted a .924, showing that they could have found their future starter. A trade of Campbell the next season, and more struggles from Quick meant Petersen was getting a chance, and he ran with it, posting a .916 save percentage in 54 games over his first three years.
Heading into last season, he was expected to split the work with Quick and the team awarded him with a shiny new three-year extension, despite his previous deal still having a year left. The Kings probably should have waited, as Petersen’s play deteriorated, with him posting an .895 save percentage over 37 appearances. When Los Angeles reached the playoffs, there was no doubt who would be starting for them, and it wasn’t Petersen.
Now, with an even worse performance through the early part of the year and higher expectations for the Kings, the team can’t wait around any more. They’ve now offered him up to anyone who wants to take on the whole contract and could send him to the minor leagues to get back on track if he clears.
It seems unlikely that any team in the league would bite, especially due to the back-loaded nature of the deal. Petersen is owed a $4MM signing bonus next season and then has a $6MM salary in year three, meaning any claiming team would be taking on a lot of financial risk for a goaltender who has struggled.