Every team’s backbone is goaltending and the Carolina Hurricanes have built depth between the pipes out to their defense and forwards. Pyotr Kochetkov has fallen into a situation where the chance to win now has outweighed the growth of the young goaltender.
Rod Brind’Amour has been blessed with solid goaltending in the recent past. Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen are both above-average goalies in the NHL. Raanta has 131 career victories with a 2.62 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Andersen has 286 career wins with a 2.59 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
Both are excellent careers that are at the back end currently. With the Canes, Andersen has 92 games played and 60 wins. Raanta has played 62 games with Carolina, collecting 38 wins.
No doubt, these two players have been great in Raleigh, despite having difficulty staying healthy.
Having said that, neither play has brought a Stanley Cup to Carolina in their time with the club. The inconsistency with health has caused instability around the organization. This is why it was important for Don Waddell to lock up the young goalkeeper, Kochetkov, for an extended contract.
Last season, Kochetkov played in 24 games and generated 12 wins, 4 of them being shutouts. The solid 2.44 GAA and .909 save percentage solidified that he belonged at this level.
Still, Waddell decided to bring back not just one of the veteran netminders, but both of them for at least one more season. Three is a crowd, as they say.
Kochetkov, the future keeper of the Hurricanes, would be forced to start this season with another organization’s AHL club as many of you know, the Canes currently do not have an AHL-affiliated team.
Sadly, Andersen has serious health concerns and is unavailable for the foreseeable future and Raanta cannot carry the load of a starting goalie. Sound familiar? It is similar to what gave Kochetkov the opportunity last season. The young Russian ran with that opportunity before giving the goal back to Andersen.
This time and year is different. The Canes organization needs to make a commitment to the 24-year-old before he loses his patience and confidence. Sure a young goalie will make mistakes and that is part of the growing pains. He will have a strong team in front of him and plenty of experience before the games really start to matter.
This season’s games involving the former second-round draft choice of Carolina in the 2019 NHL entry draft have been mediocre. This is more so the fact that the team has not played well in those five games.
If we look at the even-strength numbers for Kochetkov, he is right on pace for a solid season. A solid .901 save percentage at even strength will tell you the struggles the Canes have experienced on the penalty kill.
While playing a man down, Kochetkov has given up 4 goals in just 14 shots. To make matters worse, the youngster has given up a short-handed goal in 5 shots surrendered. The power play struggles continue all around.
Last season the team rallied around Kochetkov and his youthful energy, I expect to see more of that this season.