It’s been a while since we last heard about Cal Petersen, but we haven’t forgotten about him. The Los Angeles Kings put the Iowa native on waivers in December and there hasn’t been a lot of traction about a potential comeback, but it’s still too early to give up on his career.
Nonetheless, if you visit clutchbet.com you will probably confirm that he is one of the best Iowans ever in the NHL. So, are his days in the NHL over? Let’s take a look back at his career, so we can better understand his future.
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Getting To The NHL
Following an impressive college career, Petersen decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to turn pro. However, he failed to reach a deal with the Buffalo Sabres, so he wound up signing with the Los Angeles Kings shortly after his draft rights expired in 2017. As many young players do, he spent his first season with their AHL affiliate before being called up for the NHL the next season.
Petersen got off to an impressive start to his career, recording 1.26 saved goals above expected and a whopping .924 save percentage across 11 games. It didn’t take long before the Kings locked him up for the next three years, albeit he was sent back to their AHL affiliate for the next campaign as well.
Then, with Jack Campbell being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Kings called up Petersen again to become a starter over the often-struggling Jonathan Quick, making 32 starts during the shortened season, and recording a .911 save percentage.
Unsurprisingly, that was more than enough for Petersen to get another big contract, signing a three-year pact worth up to $15 million. The move was met with some skepticism, given his limited NHL experience, but the early results were promising enough to make them think they had a generational star in the making. Also, he was a much better option than the sluggish and aging Jonathan Quick.
The next season gave us the early signs of Petersen’s downfall. His save percentage fell to below .900 for the first time in his brief career, allowing nearly eight more goals than expected, and falling to keep his team in contention more often than not across 35 starts. Also, the veteran Quick had a bounce-back year, and the competition may have taken a toll on his confidence.
Then, he was even worse in the 2022-23 campaign, ranking among the league’s worst in terms of goals allowed above expectation, and with his saves percentage plummeting even more. However, perhaps not even the most pessimistic fan ever thought the Kings would waive him after signing such a big contract. Clearly, the front office wanted to make a statement, and let everybody know that no one was safe if they didn’t live up to the expectations:
“I think it’s a wakeup call for everybody in the organization. If you’re not performing — we all need to perform better. I think that’s just the bottom line,” defenseman Drew Doughty said.
“Defensively we’ve been really, really shaky for a lot of games and we haven’t helped our goaltending at all, to be honest. It’s a wakeup call to everybody. We need to step up and play better. We have a better team than we’ve shown this year. That’s it,” Doughty added.
His Future Is Uncertain
Once considered a budding star, Petersen has now spent the past couple of months in Ontario with the Kings’ affiliate, and his future in the NHL seems bleak, to say the least.
Any team that signs him will have to take a $5.5 cap hit, so his only hope will be to find his groove back and earn another call-up with Los Angeles. Otherwise, he might not play a single minute in the NHL ever again.