On Thursday, the five Richter Award finalists for the top NCAA goalie were announced and — to nobody’s surprise — Buffalo draftee and Notre Dame product Cal Petersen was among the five.
Petersen, 22, finished the year with a 21-11-5 record, .928 save percentage, 2.14 GAA and six shutouts, backstopping the Irish to the NCAA championships.
Petersen’s focus is currently on making the Frozen Four. But once that’s done, attention will undoubtedly turn to the pro game.
Taken in the fifth round (129th overall) at the ’13 draft, Petersen has become one of Buffalo’s more prized young assets. GM Tim Murray addressed as much in a recent interview with WGR 550 radio.
“We like him, obviously a lot, as a prospect,” Murray said. “We like his body of work — love his body of work — as far as development goes. He can’t do anymore than he’s done to develop and become better.”
Murray wants to get Petersen signed and into the pro ranks as soon as his collegiate season is done, but does acknowledge Petersen could hold off, be patient and test free agency if he so chooses.
“The decision is going to come to him, his family and his representatives,” Murray explained. “But I think that our staff has done a good job with him. He’s been treated more than fairly by the organization and I think that’s what you have to do for young players. You have to have them have a want to be part of your organization.
“Hopefully that is there with this kid right now.”
Buffalo has only drafted two goalies in the last four years — Petersen, and Sweden’s Jonas Johansson (third round, ’14). Linus Ullmark, 23, has been up and down between Buffalo and AHL Rochester this year while Robin Lehner, 25, remains entrenched as the club’s No. 1.
It’s worth noting that Lehner’s a pending RFA, in the last of a three-year, $6.675M deal. So it figures to be an interesting offseason for Murray on the goaltending front.