Kochetkov: The Time is Now

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers / Rich Graessle/GettyImages

Kochetkov: The Time is Now

The topic of Hurricanes goaltending has been discussed and dissected at length throughout Rod Bridn’Amour’s tenure as head coach.  The ‘Canes have repeatedly dipped into the free agent bargain and succeeded with the likes of Petr Mrázek, Curtis McElhinney, Antti Raanta and Fredie Anderson; as well as getting solid, sometimes spectacular contributions from the homegrown Nedeljkovic and Kochetkov. I, admittedly, was a bit disappointed when the ‘Canes dealt Nedeljkovic following what was a very successful first season tending the crease but it is looking like the right move considering his lack of success since leaving the organization.  We have seen moments of greatness from Freddie Andersen and Antti Raanta. However, between Andersen’s health and the combination of health and inconsistency with Raanta, the Hurricanes have been looking for“The Man” to guard the goal for not only this year, but the years to come.  I believe the Hurricanes have found their guy to stop their Stanley Cup run: Pyotr Kochetkov.

Kochetkov is by no means a perfect goaltender. He is very aggressive, consistently takes what some may called unnecessary risks, and lets in the soft goal from time to time; but he has all the physical tools and mental make up to be a high level goalie in the NHL.  Kochetkov arrived in North America from Russia with the reputation of being a goalie that plays a highly aggressive style and sometimes relies too much on his athleticism to bail him out.  We have seen Kochetkov’s trust in his own athletic ability come back to bite him during his NHL tenure, but this is an aspect of his game that is more of a positive than a negative.  He is still very young (only 24) and goalies typically mature at a slower pace than position players.  Keeping this same athletic style and the coaches adding some positional, technically sound play as he grows into a full time NHL goalie can turn Kochetkov into one of the top goalies in the league.  Having a top goalie paired with the Hurricanes typically stingy defensive system is a dangerous combination for every team in the NHL.

Finally, a key part of Kochetkov’s game and personality that I do not think can be overlooked is his fire.  To put it simply, Kochetkov cares.  He cares about winning and plays with a passion that no doubt permeates through the team.  Kochetkov has stood up to other players, going after Brad Marchand in his first NHL game and stepping up to the tough and pesky Brady Tkachuk after a brilliant, but risky penalty shot save.  He also shows a willingness to stand up for teammates, with no better example than the previous game against the Florida Panthers. He cares about his teammates and there is no doubt they will play hard in front of him.  As someone who plays the game, you always will play a little harder when you know your teammates have your back. Teams that play for each other, end up being championship teams.  

While Andersen is practicing now and getting ready for a return,the ‘Canes have a quality goaltender in Kochetkov they can rely upon come playoff time.  For Kochetkov, the time is now.