Fresh off of signing a three-year contract extension this summer, the cat is sort of out of the bag at this point Ė Cal Petersen is the LA Kings goaltender of the future. This doesnít come as any major revelation to longtime readers here, as weíve been making similar comments since he first signed with the club as an unrestricted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2017. Since then, Petersen has gone on to earn the No. 1 spot on our Top 10 Kings Prospect Rankings and had a cup of coffee in the NHL last season.
He’s approaching his 25th birthday next month, so Petersen will be in the NHL sooner, not later. And when he arrives, that Ďeí at the end of his last name will likely give people fits, along with the whole ‘Calvin or Calí thing.
ďI guess I kind of go by bothĒ he tried to explain during our recent conversation. ďCalvin is obviously my given name, but right now itís just Cal to most people. Iíve kept Calvin on my twitter handle because I guess I wanted to give everyone their own opportunity to choose. Calvin is a little bit too formal for me right now, though. I think [coach Stothers] actually calls me Calvin more than Cal. And he probably does it for that parent-like emphasis, when they call you by your full name. Heís the only person that can do that, though. Iíll let him call me whatever he wants.Ē
Just make sure you also call Petersen really good in net. His numbers have impressed even the toughest of critics, including posting a .924 save percentage over an 11-game look with the Kings last year. That may have even been a fairly good indication of whatís to come, as that number mirrors Petersenís performance over the final two years of his college career.
MM: Letís start with the new contract. Teams donít roll with three NHL-caliber goalies very long. Something has to give. Whatís your high-level understanding of what the plan is and was that part of the talks during negotiations?
I love it in LA, I love the guys, and I like where the team is heading. I think there will be a tremendous opportunity in the future. For me, kind of having that security and knowing where Iím going to be for the next three years was big because I think I play my best when I donít have to worry about those things. I was very fortunate to have them put their faith in me and to commit to me for three years. Hopefully the contract will be beneficial for both sides. I was just thrilled that they were going to make that equally long-term commitment to me. As for the timing of things going forward, that will be an internal decision for management, it wasnít really a factor for me.
MM: One of the major changes with the organization over the summer that ultimately will impact you was Dusty Imoo leaving to take a job in China. Youíve shared with us in the past that the two of you really connected right from the beginning. So, what were some of your first thoughts when you heard this was all going down? And does it maybe feel like the training wheels are off now and youíre being thrust into a bigger role without that safety net?
He was kind of keeping me informed with the whole process and letting me know he wanted to stay in LA, but he had other opportunities. I just told him, from my side, that he has to do whatís best for himself and his family. I think he had an awesome opportunity from what it sounds like, so Iím super happy for him. We had an awesome relationship and weíre still really close. Iím really grateful for the two years that we had together. Weíll kind of keep it going regardless.
Because we were so close when he was here, it helped me kind of relax and play my game. At the same time, I also had a great relationship with Billy [Ranford] when I was up with the Kings. Theyíre both great guys. And it seems, so far, that Matt [Millar] is an awesome dude too. He was able to come to Minneapolis this summer and got on the ice a little bit with me. I really appreciate him making the effort to come up and take some time with me; we were able to grab some lunch and try to start that relationship. I really appreciated that part of things and he seems like an awesome guy with a lot of enthusiasm. I think this year will be fun and Matt brings a lot of the stuff that Dusty brought to the table, so Iím hoping for a pretty seamless transition. I think goaltending, and the coaches for us, itís a real strength in the organization.
MM: In hindsight, how much do you think those NHL games helped you? Being in the show always looks great from the outside or sounds good on paper, but itís a whole different deal when youíre actually doing it and living the life.
You really donít know if you can actually do it until youíre under the bright lights and have to perform. Like you said, you always think you can do it and thatís your whole goal. But it helps your confidence, knowing you can play at that level, and it sets a new bar, new expectations for yourself. Itís a great motivator throughout the summer, to maintain that — and whenever I get my shot, to be even better.
MM: Along those lines, how do you stay positive knowing you most likely wonít get that next shot right out the gates, youíll probably start the year in the American League?
I think the biggest thing is to look at it as another opportunity to take it up a notch in the NHL eventually. Itís a great opportunity to keep working on things, so when I get my shot I can be even better and hopefully stay up there. I donít look at it being in the AHL is wasted time or anything like that. I think itís more of an opportunity for more reps and more game experience and thereís always more learning. I think itís also a good opportunity to be a leader on the team and a chance for our team to kind of bounce back after a rough season last year. Just having that opportunity, both on and off the ice, is something that can only help me out.
MM: Notre Dame certainly helped you reach the level you already have in your young career. When you think back on your time there, what are some of the key takeaways?
Having been back there recently with a bunch of the guys to start their camp, I was actually thinking back about my college experience and how wonderful it was. I consider it one of the greatest decisions in my life so far Ė first, to go to college, and second to got to Notre Dame. Itís not to knock the junior route. I think it prepares you for the rest of life and you become a man; you have to make decisions on your own and be more responsible. I met most of my best friends at Notre Dame and itís a special place. I think its one of the best decisions Iíve ever made and I think a lot of college players would say the same thing.
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