On his recent visit to Washington, D.C., touring the facilities that would soon become his new home, with the Capitals officials would soon become his new bosses, unrestricted free agent goaltender Justin Peters felt a personal connection with Coach Barry Trotz, the same connection Trotz’s former players have lauded for years. “When the head coach on a team looks you in the eye and tells you that he wants you to be there,” Peters would later say, “that goes a long way.”
Speaking on a teleconference Tuesday afternoon, hours after he signed a two-year deal with the Capitals worth $950,000 per season, Peters said the interest and confidence shown in the former Carolina netminder convinced him to finalize a contract shortly after free agency began at Noon.
“I was looking for an opportunity, an opportunity to play, an opportunity for the coaching staff, a goalie coach like Mitch [Korn],” Peters said. “It just seemed like the puzzles and the pieces came together, and also the organization and the confidence they showed in me. I was able to meet the staff, I was able to meet the training staff, the equipment guys, I was able to meet a lot of people in the organization.”
With the Hurricanes, Peters developed a reputation as an welcome mask for Capitals fans, shutting them out twice in seven career games with 11 goals allowed and a .938 save percentage. He mostly served as a backup to Cam Ward.
“I have nothing but positive things to say about Carolina,” said Peters, who received a modest raise from the $537,500 he made with the Hurricanes. “It’s a first-class organization and I think them for giving me an opportunity to play in the NHL. I played for some great coaches, great goalie coaches, and a lot of great teammates. I had a lot of fond memories there I’m definitely going to miss. ”
Though General Manager Brian MacLellan had previously expressed a desire to add a more veteran goaltender to stand behind Braden Holtby, Peters’ “upside” was a selling point for the Capitals.
“He’s still a young guy,” MacLellan said. “He’s a good teammate, he gets along with the number one guys he’s played with. So we thought it was a match that way. If you bring in an older, experienced guy, it’s going to cost you more money, 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 number one guy. ”
Peters said he didn’t discuss his future role with his new team, but MacLellan has been vocal about naming Holtby the starter, to provide the 24-year-old with a confidence boost after struggling in that department during the 2013-14 season.
“No we didn’t get into any of that conversation,” Peters said. “It’s a long season and I believe you need two goalies throughout the season, sometimes three. That’s just the way the NHL season goes. There’s injuries, there’s a lot of things that happen, through ups and downs. I don’t think you can go into the season with a set plan. 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. “