Andersen has been out since early November when he suffered an injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s played just eight games this season and has a .891 save percentage. Despite that less-than-ideal save percentage, though, Andersen did manage to post a 5-3 record in that eight-game span.
Arriving in Carolina in the summer of 2021, Andersen had a bounce-back season for the ages last year. After ceding his starting role in Toronto to Jack Campbell and posting a .895 save percentage in his final year as a Maple Leaf, Andersen signed a two-year, $4.5MM AAV deal to be the starter in Carolina.
Carolina turned to Andersen, a now-33-year-old veteran, picking him over Alex Nedeljkovic, who at the time was a Calder Trophy finalist who had posted a .932 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against-average in 23 games for the team.
Andersen rewarded them massively for that choice, playing in 52 games and posting a 35-14-3 record, a 2.17 goals-against-average, and a .922 save percentage. His performance alongside backup Antti Raanta earned the tandem a Jennings trophy, which became the second of Andersen’s career.
Unfortunately, an injury derailed the end of Andersen’s season, and he wasn’t able to take the ice in the Hurricanes’ playoff run, which lasted until a game-seven loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Now back on the Hurricanes roster, the expectation will be for Andersen to resume his status as the team’s number-one netminder. He won’t be without challengers for that role, though. The team’s backup, Raanta, has played in 16 games, and while his .894 save percentage isn’t anything to write home about, he’s gone 10-2-3 with a 2.63 goals-against-average.
Additionally, the Hurricanes have received quality goaltending from Pyotr Kochetkov, the team’s presumed “goalie of the future.” The 36th overall pick at the 2019 draft, Kochetkov, 23, has played in 18 games for the Hurricanes this year and posted a .914 save percentage.
His strong form this season adds to the interesting situation the Hurricanes now face. With Andersen back, they could opt to keep a three-goalie rotation and roster all three netminders on their active roster. Or, they could make the difficult choice to send Kochetkov back to their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, despite his impressive performance.
Kochetkov has faded a bit in recent starts, with an .842 save percentage in his last three games, which may make that decision a bit easier, but it’ll nonetheless be difficult for the team to feel comfortable sending down the netminder with the highest save percentage on their team.
In November, Kochetkov earned a $2MM AAV contract extension that will last through 2026-2027, meaning his future is undoubtedly in Raleigh long-term. But in the short-term, he may need to spend a bit more time developing in Chicago.