As a person, it's really hard to dislike Carolina goaltender Justin Peters. Ever since he has been a part of the Hurricanes organization, Peters has worked hard at every level and has never complained about things like playing time or not getting enough opportunities in the NHL. There have been a few instances where Peters was passed over for the Canes back-up job when he had a solid chance of earning it, but instead of sulking Peters continued to work on his game in the AHL and seemed to improve there every season. This was especially true for this year.
After posting a .931 save percentage in seven NHL games last year, Peters signed a two-year contract with the Hurricanes and it looked like he was going to battle Brian Boucher for the Hurricanes back-up spot. Had it just been Boucher he was competing with, Peters would have had a great shot of being in the NHL to start the year, and then Dan Ellis came along. Peters and Ellis spent the NHL lockout sharing the starting job for Carolina's AHL affiliate in Charlotte and both were invited to training camp once the NHL resumed. Boucher ended up being traded and Ellis beat out Peters for the starting job. Some players would be discouraged by this, but Peters seemed to be more motivated in the AHL, posting a .921 save percentage and earning a spot on the AHL's All-Star team.
While it was nice to Peters showing progress at the lower levels, there has been a reason why he had played only 28 NHL games despite being with the Hurricanes organization for eight years. Part of that is because goalies in general take a long time to develop, but another reason is because Peters just hasn't been that good in the NHL. Prior to last season, Peters' performance with the Hurricanes was less than impressive and he was only able to give the Canes replacement level goaltending, at the very most. Even when you factor in his .931 save percentage last season, Peters was unproven as an NHL goaltender and this is still true after this year.
The original plan for Peters was to keep him in Charlotte for this year until the one-way part of his contract kicked in and then he would hopefully take over as the back-up next season. An injury to Cam Ward put a cog into this plan and he found himself splitting the starting duty with Ellis for the second half of the season. Initially, this wasn't such a bad thing because Peters is 26 and has been in the AHL for six years now. If there was a time for him to make the jump to the NHL, this was it and he wasn't able to do that.
Many fans and writers pointed to goaltending and Ward's injury as to what crippled the Hurricanes this season and the play of Peters was one of the reasons why this ended up being an issue. With how Ward was playing this year and the Hurricanes being a stronger even strength club than in year's past, all Peters and Ellis had to do was give the Canes above-average goaltending for them to stay in the hunt. Ellis managed to do this for most of his starts while Peters, unfortunately, did not.
I think Peters' strong work ethic will land him an NHL job somewhere down the line but with him being on a one-way deal next year and the Canes needing a back-up goalie now, it's tough to see him in Carolina's future plans. After the jump, we'll look at why this is so and what went wrong for Peters in this past season.no comments