The Los Angeles Kings are one of those teams that haven’t had to think twice about their goaltending situation in the past decade, perhaps even longer than that. As long as Jonathan Quick has been their goalie, there has been no reason to worry. After a rebuild became more of a reality in recent seasons, though, the Kings had to consider what life would look like after Quick was gone. And as it turns out, they might have gotten just the right guy for the job.
Before this season, the Kings rostered a revolving door of backup goaltenders throughout the years. Not so much because they were bad, but more because LA was a landing spot for backups-turned-starters, and was cranking out quality goaltenders every season, it seemed.
With Quick in his mid-thirties now, it was imperative the Kings address the void he would leave when he ultimately retires, and they seem to have found a legitimate candidate to be heir to the starter’s throne: Calvin Petersen.
Petersen’s Journey From Sabres Draft Pick to Kings Starter
Calvin Petersen, or just “Cal” for short, has been patiently waiting his turn for a crack in the NHL, and he’s just nearly made it with a breakout season in 2020-21.
Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Petersen impressed as a top goaltending prospect in his freshman season at the University of Notre Dame before being drafted later that year. The Sabres were heading into what looked like a lengthy rebuild at the time, so Petersen exercised his rights by opting to become a free agent after his junior season at Notre Dame. On July 1, 2017, he signed with the LA Kings.
A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Petersen is built like the average NHL goalie: six-foot-one and 185 pounds. At 26-years old, he’s just now blossoming into a capable NHL goaltender, par for the course among most goalies at that point in their careers.
Petersen hasn’t seen much of the NHL before this season; his 34 games played are a considerably small sample size of games to judge any player on, let alone a goalie you’re hoping turns into your next franchise starter. But the path he has taken has prepared him for the opportunity.
Since signing with the Kings as a free agent in 2017, Petersen has appeared in a few NHL games each season: 11 games in 2018-19, eight games in 2019-20, and 15 games this year when he was forced to fill in for an injured Quick early in the season. And by all accounts, he has looked promising.
His body of work in the AHL with the Kings’ affiliate Ontario Reign is much bigger, with his most starts coming in the 2017-18 AHL season, when he started 41 games. That year also saw his best goals against average (GAA) and save percentage (SV%) with the Reign, when he recorded a 2.58 GAA and .910 SV%.
Quick’s Injury Makes Way for Petersen’s Breakout
In the 2020-21 NHL season, Petersen was slated to play as Quick’s backup, and be a go-to-guy for alleviating some of the pressure for Quick’s ailing body during a grueling, condensed 56-game schedule. When Quick went down, however, it was Petersen’s net to lose.
In 2020-21, Petersen has played in 15 games, going 4-6-4 with a 2.64 GAA and .921 SV%. Now, the record might not reflect it, but that is an incredible stat line for a rookie in a starter’s role to produce in an emergency situation. The Kings are currently fifth in a division where the top four teams make the playoffs, five points behind the fourth-place team.
For where everyone thought they would end up this season, that’s a remarkable feat.
Quick has been one of the most reliable, most successful and clutch goaltenders of the past decade, delivering the Kings to two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. The 35-year old has played over 650 NHL games (all with the Kings), earning more than 330 career wins, and posting more than 50 career shutouts.
Even with his nagging injury problems and declining play over the last three seasons or so, Quick will go down as arguably the best goaltender in LA Kings history. But now, it looks as though his successor is ready to take the reins whenever he’s called upon.
His name: Cal Petersen. He certainly looks up to the task.