Understandably lost amid the $67 million it took the Washington Capitals to acquire a third of the Pittsburgh Penguins' defensive corps was their first signing of the day: a cost-effective, two-year contract for goaltender Justin Peters.
The Capitals were one of three teams that piqued Peters' interest (the New York Islanders are believed to be another), which was solidified during an in-person visit last week.
"I had the opportunity to meet Barry Trotz, Mitch Korn and the coaching staff," said Peters, who was one of two free agents that the Capitals brought in during the interview period, defenseman Brooks Orpik being the other. "I'm really excited about the direction that the Capitals are headed in. The interest that they showed in me and the confidence that they showed in me, I just felt it was a great fit for myself.
"When the head coach on a team looks you in the eye and tells you that he wants you to be there, that goes a long way."
Peters, who will make $1.9 million over the course of his contract, made 20 starts for the Carolina Hurricanes last season, sporting a 7-9-4 record with a 2.50 goals against average and .919 save percentage. Carolina, however, elected to start next season with long-time starter Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin as its goaltending tandem, leaving Peters to look elsewhere.
"The time he's played in the NHL has been very, very successful," Peter's agent, Jordan Neumann, said during a phone interview Sunday. "I think he's looking for an opportunity to play a lot and prove to people that he's at the very least a very high-end No. 2 goalie."
He will get that opportunity in Washington, which opted to sign a less-experienced Peters, who has 68 career appearances over five seasons, over a more seasoned goaltender. (For example, the Capitals were one of five teams that expressed interest in Jonas Hiller, who ultimately signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Calgary Flames.)
That was a calculated decision by general manager Brian MacLellan, who wanted to send a clear message to starter Braden Holtby.
"If you bring in an older, experienced guy, it’s going to cost you more money," MacLellan said. "it was going to cost us more money, and it might have been a little more pressure on Holtby. We wanted to send a message to Holtby that he was our No.1 guy."
Peters said Tuesday that he has not had any conversations regarding his specific role, pointing out that teams "need two goalies throughout the season, sometimes three" to combat the grind.
"I don’t think you can go into the season with a set plan," he said. "I think it’ll work itself out. I’ve never met Braden personally, but I’ve played against him a lot. I know he’s a great goalie, a great competitor right there. “
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