Saturday: The Hurricanes have now confirmed the signings, adding that each young keeper has inked a two-year entry-level contract. The two contracts are financially identical except for one detail: Kochetkov’s deal will carry and $842.5K NHL salary in both seasons, as well as an $185K signing bonus and a $70K AHL salary, while Makiniemi’s is structured the same but includes a raise to $892.5K in the second year. This makes the AAV on Makiniemi’s contract $867.5K.
Perhaps the more important update comes from the KHL’s Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, who have announced a one-year extension with Kochetkov. This presumably means that the young keeper will spend the first season of his entry-level deal on loan to the KHL. Makiniemi is still expected to make the jump to North America for next season, which could give him an edge in the competition to determine which prospect keeper is the first in line for NHL starts.
Friday: There is about to be a total overhaul in the Carolina net. With Hurricanes goaltenders Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, and Antoine Bibeau all slated for unrestricted free agency this summer, the team is set to sign two talented prospects to join Alex Nedeljkovic in goal. Salary resources CapFriendly and PuckPedia are each reporting that young goalies Pyotr Kochetkov and Eetu Makiniemi have agreed to terms on entry-level contracts with Carolina. The duo are likely slated for the AHL for a season or two, but could challenge for NHL opportunities before too long.
Kochetkov, 21, was a highly-touted overage netminder in the 2019 NHL Draft, selected early in the second round by the ’Canes. After years of dominating the junior and minor league ranks in Russia, as well impressing on the international stage at the 2019 World Juniors, Kochetkov finally found some success at the top level in the KHL this season. Splitting his season between Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and Vityaz Podolsk, Kochetkov was a serviceable backup with a sub-2.70 GAA for both teams and a .931 save percentage in the regular season and postseason for Torpedo. Looking to take the next step in his development, Kochetkov appears ready for the AHL and hopes that he can follow a recent influx of elite young Russian netminders and find success in his move to North America.
Makiniemi, 22, was a fourth-round puck by Carolina back in 2017. After years spent in the junior ranks in Finland, Makiniemi finally found a starting role in the Liiiga late last season. He was stellar in seven games down the stretch for Ilves, recording a .936 save percentage and 1.53 GAA. That was enough to earn him the top job for the team this year and while his numbers regressed somewhat, they did so in 34 games plus a playoff run. Having finally honed his ability at the pro level, Makiniemi also seems ready for the AHL. He may begin next season as the backup to Kochetkov, but is a legitimate threat to outplay his counterpart.