Fresh off of signing a three-year contract extension this summer, the cat is sort of out of the bag at this point – Cal Petersen is the LA Kings goaltender of the future. This doesn’t come as any major revelation to longtime readers here, as we’ve been making similar comments since he first signed with the club as an unrestricted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2017. Over his first two seasons as a pro, 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.
Approaching his 25th birthday next month, Petersen will be in the NHL sooner, not later. And when he arrives, that ‘e’ at the end of his last name will likely give people fits, along with the whole ‘Calvin or Cal’ thing.
“I guess I kind of go by both” he tried to explain during a recent conversation with MayorsManor. “Calvin is obviously my given name, but right now it’s just Cal to most people. I’ve 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. He’s the only person that can do that, though. I’ll let him call me whatever he wants.”
Just make sure you also call Petersen really good in net. Although his time with the Kings was brief last season, his 11-game run may have been a fairly good indication of what’s to come. Petersen produced a .924 save percentage in those games, which mirrors what he posted over the final two years of his college career.
MM: Let’s start with the new contract. Teams don’t roll with three NHL-caliber goalies very long. Something has to give. What’s 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 I’m going to be for the next three years was big because I think I play my best when I don’t 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 wasn’t 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. You’ve 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 you’re 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 what’s best for himself and his family. I think he had an awesome opportunity from what it sounds like, so I’m super happy for him. We had an awesome relationship and we’re still really close. I’m really grateful for the two years that we had together. We’ll 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. They’re 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 I’m hoping for a pretty seamless transition. I think goaltending, and the coaches for us, it’s 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 it’s a whole different deal when you’re actually doing it and living the life.
You really don’t know if you can actually do it until you’re under the bright lights and have to perform. Like you said, you always think you can do it and that’s 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. It’s 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 won’t get that next shot right out the gates, you’ll 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. It’s 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 don’t look at it being in the AHL is wasted time or anything like that. I think it’s more of an opportunity for more reps and more game experience and there’s always more learning. I think it’s 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 – first, to go to college, and second to go to Notre Dame. It’s 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 it’s a special place. I think its one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I think a lot of college players would say the same thing.
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