Pyotr Kochetkov is the Carolina Hurricanes’ Goalie of the Future

Pyotr Kochetkov, drafted 36th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, has traveled a long and winding road to where he currently stands as the Canes’ 3rd string (for now) netminder. The now 23-year-old goaltender played for no less than nine teams across the KHL, VHL, and MHL since entering the Canes’ prospect system and has quickly risen to the rank of genuine “goalie of the future” status over the course of 48 games played in North America, split between the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Wolves.

Prior to making the jump to North American rinks and even prior to being drafted into the NHL, Kochetkov stunned hockey fans worldwide with his flashy, dramatic, and unbelievably acrobatic playing style during the 2019 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. Kochetkov would post a .953 save percentage and 1.45 goals against average on the way to backstopping the Russian national team to a bronze medal before winning the prestige of being named the tournament’s best goaltender.

His professional North American debut season would come in 2021-22. Kochetkov would absolutely dominate in the AHL playoffs with the AHL Championship-winning Chicago Wolves, turning in a .950 save percentage alongside a 5-1-0 postseason win/loss record after finishing the regular season with a .921 save percentage, 2.09 goals against average, and a 13-1-2 win/loss record. Kochetkov would play in three regular season games and four playoff games with the Carolina Hurricanes during this season as well due to a litany of injuries that cropped up in the crease.

Thus far this season, Kochetkov has proven to be incredibly serviceable – in the 19 games he has played as a Hurricane (most of which were due to either of the Canes’ current one-two punch of Freddie Andersen and Antti Raanta being injured), Kochetkov has registered a .913 save percentage, 2.33 goals against average, and a 10-4-5 win/loss record. In the 11 games he’s played in Chicago this season, Pyotr has notched a .908SV%, 2.71GAA, and a 6-4-1 win/loss record. Not too shabby for a 23-year-old still adjusting to the North American style of hockey.

The Carolina Hurricanes, in recent years more so than in the past, have had some not-so-great luck with goaltending prospects. Alex Nedeljkovic had a meteoric rise in the 2020-21 NHL regular season (.932 SV%, 1.90GAA, absolutely gaudy numbers for a seemingly career AHLer up to this point) that saw him recognized for Calder Trophy contention as the Rookie of the Year. As fate would have it, though, this soon fizzled out after the Hurricanes made the puzzling choice to ship him off to Detroit for the rights to Jonathan Bernier and a 3rd round pick.

On top of moving “Ned,” the Carolina Hurricanes would make wholesale changes in the goaltending department entirely after the end of the 2020-21 season. In the free agency period, former starting goalie Petr Mrazek signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, and his backup, James Reimer, returned to the San Jose Sharks; this allowed Canes to sign Freddie and Raanta, and the rest was history. Aside from Ned, though, there were a few other goalies in the Canes’ depth chart that, if you’d have asked me, were near shoe-ins for the next up-and-coming goaltending project in Raleigh.

Enter Jack LaFontaine. The well-liked, charismatic netminder would forego the remainder of his final season at the University of Minnesota to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes, much to the chagrin of U. of Minnesota fans. After being thrust into the NHL limelight way too early and posting .780SV% and 7.20 goals against average across his two NHL games played, the Carolina Hurricanes decided it was best to move on from him, too.

Another name of note would be Eetu Mäkiniemi, who was shipped out to the San Jose Sharks along with the beloved Steven Lorentz and a 3rd round pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Brent Burns this past offseason. Needless to say, the Carolina Hurricanes have lacked a genuinely solid foundation for the future in the crease. Until now, that is. Pyotr Kochetkov has been fantastic for the Canes and the Wolves this season and is only going to get better with time and careful development. He has, after all, found success in great measure wherever he has played.

Interestingly enough, the Carolina Hurricanes are rumored to be open to moving Antti Raanta at the trade deadline to give Kochetkov time and room to develop as a backup to Freddie Andersen. Suppose the Canes can resist throwing him to the wolves (not the Chicago ones, the proverbial ones that devoured Jack LaFontaine). In that case, he could very well develop into the best goaltending prospect that the Carolina Hurricanes franchise has seen since Cameron Kenneth Ward.

As always, folks, thanks a ton for reading! If you’d like to discuss/debate or anything in between regarding the content of this article, you can catch me on Twitter @natt_mid.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
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