On Friday Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill addressed the media in Chicago just hours before the start of the 2017 NHL Draft. Botterill was asked dozens of questions about the Sabres plans moving forward, but one response stood out more than the others.
"I've enjoyed interacting with Cal Petersen and wish him the best but at this point, I don't believe he'll be signing with the Sabres."
Petersen, a 2013 fifth-round pick of the Sabres, will become an unrestricted free agent on June 30. Botterill told reporters in Chicago that Petersen will hit the open market and will likely sign elsewhere.
The 22-year-old standout netminder shined while with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the past three seasons. Last year, Petersen posted an impressive .926 save percentage and 2.22 goals against average while appearing in 40 games.
"I don't believe he'll [Cal Petersen] be signing with the Buffalo Sabres" pic.twitter.com/o29c6cVzqj
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) June 23, 2017
Petersen is free to sign with any team because once the 2017 NHL Draft has ended, it will be more than four years since Petersen was selected in 2013. Essentially, he was drafted by the Sabres one-year before he went to Notre Dame. When he decided to skip his senior season and turn pro, the Sabres had one month to sign him to a contract. After that, he was free to head wherever he would like as a free agent.
This isn't good news for the Sabres but it isn't the end of the world either.
Petersen is an outstanding goaltending prospect and will very likely be a good NHL goaltender in a few years. The Sabres would've loved to add him to the organization and I'm sure they tried, he just doesn't want to be here.
That became pretty obvious when he decided to turn pro and didn't sign with Buffalo right away. That, my friends, was why it was so important for the Sabres to assure that Linus Ullmark didn't go anywhere.
Botterill told reporters on Friday that he was one of the players they were trying to protect and that's why they also sent a sixth-round pick to Vegas. Botterill has likely known about Petersen's intentions for a while now, allowing him to make sure they had both Lehner and Ullmark protected for next year.
Like Petersen, there's a lot to like about Ullmark. Sure, it's fair for fans to want both in the organization and that's totally understandable. At the end of the day, a really weird rule allowing players to opt for free agency after they're drafted came back to bite the Sabres.
The same thing happened to the Nashville Predators when Jimmy Vesey decided he wanted nothing to do with the organization. How'd that turn out? Petersen moving on isn't ideal, but there's still plenty to like about the Sabres prospect pipeline.