Hurricanes Goaltending Situation: Panic But Patience

Carolina Hurricanes v Florida Panthers
Carolina Hurricanes v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

It has been a late struggle for the Carolina Hurricanes, on and off the ice. The magnified glass is primarily focused on goaltending currently. The season began with 3 quality options in the crease but that has changed drastically in just the third month of the season.

The season is very young and although it seems like a time of desperation, the Canes will need to be patient and let this all develop. The goaltending has not been the sole reason for the recent loss but no one on the team is playing particularly well right now.

Expectations could not have been higher entering this season and that surely is a big cause for panic in Raleigh. The team has not played up to normal standards and now the state of the most important position is in flux. Frederik Andersen went down with a rare blood clot issue that leaves his return in question. Although he has been cleared to skate, it is not a situation to rush back.

Antti Raanta has had a rough string of starts and has undoubtedly struggled to keep this team in games. That led to his ultimate placement on waivers, which he has cleared and been assigned to Chicago of the AHL. That leaves the young Russian, Pyotr Kochetkov. Kochetkov has great skill and needs more seasoning but is a strong option.

Though inexperienced, Kochetkov has earned the chance to play through some growing pains and help right the ship. Recently called up from the ECHL, Yaniv Perets, is getting a chance to learn how to be an NHL netminder behind Kochetkov. It remains to be seen if Perets will get a start or is here to buy time for someone new.

Similar to Jaroslav Halak, the Canes have brought in Aaron Dell on a professional tryout. Like Halak, I do not see this lasting. I also do not anticipate the Canes to be involved in any of the top, available goalies around the league. The salary cap situation is tight and a lot is unknown about the options within the organization.

The bottom line is that this team needs to start playing better as a unit. Whether Kochetkov stands on his head or not, Don Waddell invested a lot of money in the roster to compete for a Stanley Cup. Some newcomers have failed to earn their new contracts and some veterans are looking like this could be the end of the road.

Andersen could be right around the corner for Carolina or Raanta could regain his confidence in the AHL and provide depth for the young goalies. Ultimately it is time for Kochetkov to learn how to be the guy and consistently keep this team in games. At that point, the highly skilled and paid players need to take over the game.

If we are in the same spot in mid-January and Andersen is still far away from making it back, it may be time to get creative in the trade market for a goaltender to salvage the season. One thing is for sure, this is Kochetkov's team for the immediate future and next season.