Carolina brought in Halák, 38, on a tryout two weeks ago after it was discovered starter Frederik Andersen would be sidelined long-term with a blood-clotting issue. Since then, he’s practiced with the team but was ineligible to dress for a game without having an actual contract.
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour indicated to reporters this morning that Halák was the one who initiated the release process, but that the decision was ultimately mutual. The team will move forward with a tandem of Antti Raanta and youngster Pyotr Kochetkov in the crease while Andersen is sidelined.
Carolina’s goaltending got off to a rough start this season, although it’s improved marginally in the five games since Andersen left the team. Raanta has posted a 2-1-0 record and .908 SV% in three appearances, while Kochetkov has a 1-1-0 record and .935 SV% in two starts, including a 22-save shutout against the Lightning on November 11.
It seemed the Hurricanes wanted Halák to provide some veteran support for Kochetkov as he competed for playing time, but the situation just hasn’t worked out as planned. The 24-year-old Kochetkov has had quite the chaotic season in the first year of a four-year, $8MM contract. Sitting third on the depth chart behind Andersen and Raanta, Kochetkov began the season on loan to the Lightning’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse as the Hurricanes remain without a full-time affiliate this season. He had a strong showing with Syracuse, though, recording a perfect record and .932 SV% in three appearances, and he now seems to be finding his footing again at the NHL level.
It is worth noting that without Halák in the fold, the Hurricanes have just three healthy goalies under contract in the organization. The third is undrafted free-agent signing Yaniv Perets, who has begun the season in the ECHL with the Norfolk Admirals after capturing a collegiate national championship with Quinnipiac last season. Brind’Amour told Cory Lavalette of the North State Journal that he would be “comfortable” recalling and playing Perets if injuries to Kochetkov or Raanta necessitated it. The 23-year-old has a .900 SV%, 2.93 GAA, and a 2-5-1 record through eight games with Norfolk.
For Halák, the chances of him continuing his 17-year, 581-game NHL career are fading. The 38-year-old has been an average backup for the past few seasons, last recording a .903 SV% and 2.72 GAA in 25 appearances with the Rangers in 2022-23. A two-time Jennings Trophy winner and a ninth-round draft pick of the Canadiens in 2003, retirement seems close ahead.