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Flyers Waive Cal Petersen, Set to Recall Felix Sandström

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

Last week, I wrote about how Cal Petersen was given a golden opportunity to restore his value and lost stock after a tumultuous couple of seasons that led to his demotion to the AHL and subsequent trade to the Philadelphia Flyers.

In a way, it was true because with Carter Hart no longer on the roster and rookie goaltender Samuel Ersson leading the way, the Flyers needed a steady and stable backup netminder in the interim, and they went with Petersen over Felix Sandström.

Petersen received two starts over the last 13 games since being recalled on an emergency basis and after a stellar performance against Seattle on the 10th of February, the wheels flew off against the Pittsburgh Penguins over the weekend, leading to his placement on the waivers and Sandström’s soon-to-be recall.

He made 17 saves on 19 shots in his victory against the Kraken but allowed 7 goals on 32 attempts against Pittsburgh in a game where the Flyers absolutely needed the 2 points and in a game where the offense scored 6 times while rallying from a couple of deficits. The performance was just not what anyone expected, and he was unable to make that one clutch save to keep the Flyers’ momentum going and quell the Penguins’ high-flying attack.

Acquired as a throw-in in the Ivan Provorov 3-team trade, not much was expected out of Petersen. With Hart firmly implanted as the starting netminder at the beginning of the season, it was always Ersson’s job to lose during training camp. Petersen was cut very early on and Sandström stuck around even through opening night before finally being demoted. In the minors, Petersen went 5-8-2 with a 3.26 GAA and .890 SV%, but Sandström wasn’t doing any better with an .882 SV% and a 3.23 GAA despite his current record being 11-6-2.

Petersen still has one year remaining on his lucrative 3-year, $15 million pact that he signed with the Kings. He could be used a buyout candidate should Daniel Brière and company feel the need to alleviate some cap space for the upcoming summer. They would save $4 million in 2024-25 but would be on the hook for $2 million in 2025-26. The salary cap should continue to rise from $87.5 million next year to $92 million in 2025-26.

As for Sandström, this is also a make-or-break opportunity after he completely lost favour within the organization. There was a lot of tough luck at the beginning of his tenure with the Flyers never giving him any offensive output. However, as that trend started to change, Sandström could not keep the puck out of the net at a consistent rate. He sported a 3-12-3 record, .880 SV%, and a 3.72 GAA. in 2022-23 and he finished his season on a 2-8-2 bender with an .868 SV% while allowing 49 goals in 13 contests.

He’s had a roller coaster season with the Phantoms so far as he allowed 14 goals in his first 3+ games on just 89 shots. He then went the next 4 games allowing 2 goals or less in 3 of them before another rough stretch where he allowed 28 goals in his next 8 games – with one standout performance where he stopped 30 of 31 shots against Hartford. In his last 4 games, he’s had two great performances where he stopped 52 of 55 shots, but then another 2 games where he allowed 9 goals on 56 shots.

Nevertheless, this is his opportunity to grasp by the horns as the Flyers don’t have a real third option. They could peruse the open market for a goaltender but the price seems rather steep for the available netminders, and minor league goalies Parker Gahagen and Nolan Maier don’t seem like NHL-ready options at the moment should they consider signing them to NHL contracts.

Ersson will continue to command the bulk of the starts until the end of the season, but there are plenty of back-to-back situations coming up and they are set to play 15 times in the first 30 days of March. The Flyers desperately need stable performances from their backup whenever called upon, and now it’s Sandström’s turn to help the club.

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