Tough Year for the Fan Favorite Goalie

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes
New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

The mood around Raleigh and the Carolina Hurricanes is buzzing and extremely high. Naturally, acquiring the jewel of the trade deadline in Jake Guentzel and a gifted veteran in Evgeny Kuznetsov will do that to a franchise and fan base. The team is bolstered and ready to run at Lord Stanley's Cup. It is difficult not to think about a player like Antti Raanta, who has had a difficult year after being such a soldier for this organization.

In his third season with the Canes, Raanta signed a team friendly contract this past summer for one year for $1.5 million. What was the beginning of a strong summer for the team, Raanta at a cheap rate was just what Don Waddell needed to bring back other veterans like Frederik Andersen, Jesper Fast, and Jordan Staal.

The Canes had the benefit of having three solid goalies on the roster which meant Raanta and his knack of injuries would not be asked to do more than his normal expectations. But with Andersen going down early and Pyotr Kochetkov being inexperienced, the weight fell on the 34-year old veterans.

As history tends to repeat itself, "Father Finn" suffered injuries but the biggest concern was his poor play. Surprisingly, in mid-December, the former Arizona Coyotes keeper was sent down to the AHL. A tough pill to swallow for any veteran, Raanta went down to Chicago and worked his way back to Raleigh. With 12 wins on the season, the Rauma, Finland native regained some of his form before falling to another injury.

With the emergence of Spencer Martin and return of Andersen, the veteran found himself returning from injury just to be placed on waivers for the second time this season. Clearing roster spots and salary cap space for the trade deadline, Raanta fell victim to the "business" side of hockey despite the respect he has earned on and off the ice in Raleigh.

To no surprise, the team player that he is, Raanta has returned to Chicago of the NHL to continue to work and be ready for a call-up.

In what seems to be a disrespectful move to the fan favorite, the Canes are in a window of realistically chasing the cup. That brings along expectations and tough decisions to stay at the top. Raanta would agree with this and never complain.

The positive is that Raanta is still a part of this franchise and could easily be back up at some point from now until the spring. He is a part of the future success and is a big reason for the recent success of this club.

Here's to winning it for Father Finn!