How The Carolina Hurricanes Can Go About The Goaltending Situation

The most important position in the game of hockey is the goalie. It is very similar to a starting pitcher, or the starting quarterback. A goalie can make a break a season and, like those two positions above, takes the heat if things go south. Having a goalie you can count on can help take the team to new heights and win a championship. And for the first time in a long time, the Carolina Hurricanes goaltending appears to be in the best shape it has been.

Carolina Hurricanes Goaltending Situation

Since the departure of Cam Ward and his help capturing the Stanley Cup as a rookie, the goaltending carousel has not stopped. They’ve gone through Scott Darling, Petr Mrazek, Alex Nedeljkovic, James Reimer, and Curtis McElhinney. That’s to name a few. And while head coach Rod Brind’Amour has taken this team to new heights, play between the pipes has never lived up. This team has a rock-solid core up and down the lineup, but they have not had a goalie until now.

A New Hope

Frederik Andersen

Like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, a new hope has been instilled within the Hurricanes organization. Management brought in Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, which would form one of the best duos they’ve had in a long time. Andersen was a shoe-in fit in Free Agency. And the results paid off.

Andersen was playing Vezina Trophy calibre hockey all season long. He had a 2.17 GAA and a .922 save percentage. In addition to that, his rock solid 27.8 goals saved above expected was elite. However, Andersen once again got injured and failed to play a single playoff game for the club.

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The script was looking to get rewritten that he could lift his team in the postseason, but that did not come. He is hurt again this season and has only played eight games. His save percentage dropped drastically to .891 and he had a negative GSAX. He is a pending unrestricted free agent upon the end of this season.

Antti Raanta

Raanta was also a huge bright spot. Management knew it needed goaltending and went and got it. Raanta had himself a nice season as well in the backup role. He was able to suit up in 28 games and had a 2.45 GAA and a .912 save percentage. In addition, he stopped 3.7 goals more than he was expected to let in.

As a result of the tandem, as a team, they allowed the least amount of goals during the 2021-22 season with 200. The one key difference is that he played in the playoffs. He was not the reason they got bounced in the second round and was very good overall. Raanta had a 2.26 GAA and a .922 save percentage. He came up huge at times and really kept the team in games.

The biggest issue; he has also missed time this year. Granted he has seen game action recently, but the injury history continues. Both goaltenders brought in to help right the ship have an injury history. Like Andersen, he is also a pending UFA at the season’s end. But at least there is a plan in place for the team in the future.

Here Comes The Kid

Russian goaltenders are a different beast. Some of the most elite goaltenders in the league right now come from that country and are the clear-cut starters for their teams. Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning), Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers), and Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders) are arguably the best at the position. But there is a new kid on the block aiming to be in the same tier as those three. The 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes goaltending got brighter as Pyotr Kochetkov has made a name for himself. In doing so, he has earned himself a four-year contract extension.

Kochetkov has had to come in to relieve the injured goaltenders, and his presence in the crease has been phenomenal. He only played three games all regular season, however, he did suit up in four playoff games. But this season he has played in fifteen games (most among Carolina goalies) and owns a 10-1-4 record. In addition, he owns an excellent 1.94 GAA and a .928 save percentage. His 11.2 goals saved above-expected ranks seventh in the league. The best part is in only 15 games played he has three shutout victories tying him for the league lead alongside Connor Hellebuyck and Ville Husso.

The kid’s game has been a drastic improvement. Among goaltender who has played in 10 games this year, he leads the league in high danger save percentage (.902). Considering the Hurricanes allow the fifth-fewest high-danger chances, this is still huge. Kochetkov has been sensational in December. He has started seven games, losing only one in overtime. His numbers are stellar, as he has posted a 1.63 GAA and a .939 save percentage while also securing back-to-back shutout victories. The future of Carolina Hurricanes’ goaltending is assured, but what does this mean for the present?

What Do They Do From Here?

Things in the crease have looked great. The fans love Kochetkov, and rightfully so. He has given the fans something to cheer about, and he has been playing great hockey. Carolina has been hot and has taken the division lead back. But with Kochetkov playing well and the injured goaltenders returning, what should the team do?

Carry Three Goalies

The one thing that could seem logical is carrying all three goalies. Not only would this provide insurance in case history repeats itself and the two veterans get hurt again, but also gives the team options down the stretch. In terms of Kochetkov, this would not be ideal. He has played unreal and deserves every opportunity that comes his way. He can however be sent to the AHL and is exempt from waivers. But in case any emergency comes their way, having someone they can thrust into action is a bonus.

Trade One

With the two veterans on expiring deals, the team could look to trade one of those. Andersen would net a greater return, but for a team aiming to hoist the Stanley Cup, having him in tandem with Kochetkov would be ideal. So that leaves Raanta. Not only has he been a component goalie wherever he has been, but he proved he can be counted upon when it matters most. The return would not be as high, but it would be better than losing him for nothing.

The New Kid On The Block Is Good

If one thing is for certain, the Carolina Hurricanes’ goaltending situation has been a mess over the years. But the 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes goaltending situation is finally resolved as Pytor Kochetkov is the man for the job. He has played lights-out hockey for the team, and in addition, they have been one of the hottest teams in hockey.

The X-Factor to them winning a championship is between the pipes. As demonstrated above, Kotchetkov is playing so well that it’s almost impossible to sit him. A tough choice is on the horizon, but one thing is certain and that is that Kotchetkov deserves time in the blue paint. 

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