The Carolina Hurricanes have a goaltending question to answer in the upcoming offseason. Both Antti Raanta and Frederik Andersen are on expiring two-year contracts. They also have Pyotr Kochetkov hungry to earn a full-time spot in the crease.
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Only one of Andersen and Raanta should be re-signed. Both goalies are over 30 years old, but I expect that Raanta will be cheaper to sign while also being a better goalie. We’ll take a look at contract history and performance over the past two seasons to determine the best option for the Hurricanes moving forward.
Raanta & Andersen Are The Same Age
Having two aging goaltenders is less than ideal, so the 33-year-old Andersen and 34-year-old Raanta should not return as a tandem. Once a player reaches that 32- or 33-year mark, injuries start compounding. All it takes is one hip injury to end a goalie’s career.
Because both goaltenders are the same age, we can’t use that as a tiebreaker for comparing the two players to each other. Raanta is older than Andersen by five months, but that doesn’t give either goalie an edge against the other.
Raanta is Cheaper
Raanta signed a two-year, $2 million deal in the 2021 offseason. He was coming off of a three-year deal he had signed with the Arizona Coyotes that paid him $4.25 million each year. Conversely, Andersen has an expiring two-year deal worth $4.5 million per year. The five-year contract he signed before that payed him $5 million a season.
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Kochetkov’s contract extension kicks in this year to the tune of $2 million for the next four seasons. If Don Waddell (Hurricanes general manager) decides to allocate the same amount of salary towards goaltending this season as he did in the previous two years, that leaves $4.5 million for another netminder. If the returning goalie is Raanta, I wouldn’t expect him to make more than $3.5 million a year. That gives Waddell more cap flexibility to improve the rest of his team.
Raanta is Better
Raanta has a career 2.43 goals against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%). Andersen is in the same ballpark with a 2.58 GAA and .915 SV% over his 10-year career. Let’s look at how both goalies have performed over the past two seasons.
Note: I’ll look at games played (GP), Wins (W), quality starts (QS), GAA, SV%, quality start percentage (QS%), even strength save percentage (EVSV%) and shutouts.
All of these numbers (except for wins) are incredibly consistent. That consistency is key for the goalie position. It allows the coach to know what they are going to get when they put a goaltender in net for a game. It’s valuable to other general managers, who should be calling Raanta’s representatives to put forth an offer for his services.
The most impressive thing about his numbers is his EVSV%. At .923, it’s almost Vezina Trophy calibre. There is no reason to suspect that his play would drop considerably if he played 20-25 more games in a season.
On the flip side, Andersen had an injury-laden season, which hampered his ability to take on a starter’s load. It also prevented him from going on a considerable hot streak. Last season’s numbers are better than Raanta’s but this year he’s been worse. He’s still capable of elite goaltending, it’s just a matter being consistent year after year.
At the end of the day it’s clear that the goaltending Raanta will provide the Hurricanes is more consistent and cheaper than Andersen. That should make for an easy decision this summer to re-sign Raanta and let Andersen walk.