Finding a replacement for Justin Peters

One of the Carolina Hurricanes’ unrestricted free agents who hasn’t been talked about much is goaltender Justin Peters. You may remember him as the guy who was Cam Ward’s back-up in 2010-11 and was a complete sieve whenever he was forced into action, which was only in 12 games. However, you may also remember him from last season when he posted a .931 save percentage in the seven games he played and looked much more poised in net than he ever had before. He performed admirably while both Cam Ward and Brian Boucher were injured, so that is fresh in the back of fan’s minds but it’s important to remember that was only seven games.

Lots of crazy things can happen in small sample sizes, so Peters’ performance last season likely isn’t his true talent level and neither is the awful .875 performance he put up in 2010-11. It’s likely somewhere closer to the .906 save percentage he has 176 games in the AHL and that is pretty reasonable to expect from a back-up goaltender who has spent most of his career outside of the NHL. He is a player who can be replaced easily but there is plenty of motivation to bring him back for next season.

Earlier today, it was announced that Brian Boucher will miss 4-6 months with a shoulder injury, which would leave John Muse, Carolina’s only other goalie under contract, as the back-up for the NHL club. Muse was great for the Florida Everblades in the ECHL but he has played only 16 total games at the professional level so the Hurricanes may want someone with more experience to back-up Ward. With Mike Murphy going to the KHL next season, the team was likely going to sign another goalie for Charlotte anyway, and keeping Peters around sounds like the easiest option.

Re-signing Peters might be the popular thing to do because of how well he played in Carolina last year but playing well in seven games is not a good representation of a goalie’s talent. When you look at who is available, there are actually more than a few goalies who would make a decent replacement for him. We will take a look at those goalies after the jump.

First off, I will clarify that Carolina is not going to be signing a back-up goalie. Boucher is going to be back sometime in the first-half of the season so there isn’t much reason for the Canes to spend money on another goaltender. What they do need is someone to play in the AHL and can be called up to play in the NHL when needed. They also need to be somewhat reliable in the NHL but that’s never a guarantee with any goaltender. Ward usually starts 80% of the team’s games when healthy so whoever they sign probably won’t see much action unless something bad happens.

Here’s what the market looks like.

Goalie NHL GP Sv% AHL GP Sv%
Peter Mannino 6 0.882 114 0.904
Justin Peters 28 0.9 148 0.906
Curtis McElihinney 68 0.899 131 0.914
Dan Ellis 165 0.908 140 0.904
Drew MacIntyre 4 0.9 261 0.918
Andrew Raycroft 280 0.9 122 0.911
Sebastein Caron 95 0.892 149 0.895
Brad Thiessen 5 0.858 117 0.907
Yann Danis 50 0.911 186 0.909
Al Montoya 56 0.906 197 0.904

The first thing you’ll notice is that none of these goalies have particularly good track records in the NHL and that’s understandable because we’re mainly looking at AHL talents here. A point that Tripp Tracy likes to make on FS-Carolinas broadcasts is that you need at least 10 wins out of your back-up goalie if you want to make the playoffs. This sounds reasonable but wins are a bad statistic to go by for goaltenders because they are largely dependent on the rest of the team and not the goalie himself. However, one thing you should get out of your back-up is a performance that is above replacement level at the very least. The Canes haven’t gotten that with almost any back-up they have used in the past few years. People thought Boucher would give them that, but we all know how that turned out.

Can any of the goalies here give the Canes goaltending that’s above replacement level, though? With goaltending being largely unpredictable, it’s hard to say, but I think you can rule out Caron and McEilhinney since they have been consistently bad in the NHL. The others are around the same compared to Peters as fan as I am concerned. They either haven’t played enough at the NHL or have performed at around the same level has him in the pros. Who knows what will happen next year?

Needless to say, if the Hurricanes choose to replace Peters with someone else, they have plenty of options but it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to stick with him next year. If anything to have some insurance for the Checkers.