It has been a problem the Carolina Hurricanes have faced for years. Finding a back-up goaltender that can come off the bench, steal a win and give Cam Ward some rest. It finally looks like Justin Peters can be the answer to that problem.
Peters was selected in the second round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, two years before a rookie Cam Ward took over the starting job from Martin Gerber in the 2006 playoffs and led the franchise to its first ever Stanley Cup.
Before the draft, Peters had an excellent season for the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the OHL winning 30 games and began to gain stock in the upcoming draft.
In 2004 the Hurricanes were looking for possible replacements for an aging Artus Irbe, who was at the age of 37. Ward was in Carolina’s system playing for the Red Deer Rebels after being drafted in the 2002 draft with the 25th overall pick. However, Ward had earned only one more win
than Peters in the 2004 season. The Hurricanes decided to take Peters with the 38th overall pick, stocking their goalie prospect cupboard.
Peters eventually made the transition to the AHL in 2006 joining the Albany River Rats, the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate at the time. He jumped between the AHL and ECHL over the next two seasons before earning a permanent spot with the River Rats in 2008-09.
In February of 2010 Peters made his first appearance for the Hurricanes winning a game against the New York Islanders, 3-1. He went on to play in nine games for Carolina, earning six wins.
The 2010-11 season was a tough one for Peters. He made the Hurricanes roster, but only appeared in 12 games, winning three for the Hurricanes as he struggled to adapt playing in a backup role. Because of the rough season, GM Jim Rutherford decided to sign Brian Boucher as the backup for the 2011-12 season and reassigned Peters to the AHL.
Peters’ Season So Far
When the lockout ended, Rutherford signed Dan Ellis, who was on a tryout role with the Charlotte Checkers during the lockout season and traded Boucher to the Philadelphia Flyers. Peters was again relegated to the Checkers until Ward’s injury in March.
Both Peters and Ellis had difficulties getting in grooves, while the offense could not score sending the Hurricanes out of a playoff spot.
But in the last four games Peters has played extremely well. He’s made some highlight reel saves against Jaromir Jagr and Sergei Gonchar and his positioning has been excellent. The goals he has gave up are tough ones to stop, not routine saves goalies should be able to make. Peters has also taken the starting spot from Ellis, who was rewarded it after Ward was placed on injured reserve.
His record may not show it, but Peters has had a strong season filling in for Ward. The only question now is if he can provide the same type of compete level when he does not play in five or seven games in a row. If he can do that, Peters should expect a bright future with Carolina in Ward’s backup role, a position the team has been trying to fill for years.