Despite long-term injuries to James Reimer and Roberto Luongo, the Florida Panthers have not taken a step back between the pipes, relying on impressive play from 28 year-old rookie Harri Sateri, who has helped the Cats win three games in a row.
Before this season, the Florida Panthers had long struggled with depth at the goaltender position. With constant injuries to Roberto Luongo and his age as concerns, the Florida Panthers have never been able to get a consistent option with their third goalie.
The team, since the 2014-15 season, have seen multiple goalies get extended playing time. There were the consistent options with Al Montoya and James Reimer, both of which were able to step in and play the extended minutes when needed. However, there were also the Dan Ellis and Reto Berra’s, neither of whom played more than one season as the team’s backup or third string tender. Although, in the 2017-18 season, the Florida Panthers may have finally found their option
Sateri, who is seeing just his second taste of North American hockey, was signed from KHL team Vityaz Podolsk after three seasons of solid hockey. In his first two seasons, Sateri allowed just 2.95 and 2.43 goals per game, playing in 45 matches in each season.
His third season, Harri saw 42 games in between the pipes, allowing just 2.50 goals per game and saving .929 of shots faced, a career high stretching across any league. His performance helped Vityaz Podolsk to the playoffs, in which Sateri saw 4 games of poor hockey (5.56 GAA).
Now, because of injuries to Roberto Luongo and James Reimer more recently, Harri Sateri is getting a chance to impress in the NHL, where he’s done exactly that.
In the past 3 games, which coincidentally has been the start of a three-game win streak for the Florida Panthers, Sateri has started and won all 3 games for the Panthers. In those games, Sateri has allowed just 5 goals, including a 1 goal, 31 save performance against the New York Islanders, in which the Panthers won 4-1.
Sateri’s performances, which have been a big boost for the Panthers as of late, have not gone unnoticed by the hockey world and even team mates.
After Sateri’s performance against the Islanders, Panthers’ defenseman Keith Yandle responded when asked about Harri’s performance for the team with this:
"“He’s played well enough for us to win, we just haven’t been able to be good enough for him, I thought tonight he awesome.”"
Harri also received the NHL’s 2nd star of the week on Monday, February 5th, in which he capped off the week allowing just 1.67 goals per game.
Overall, Sateri has been a major catalyst in the Florida Panthers’ winning streak. His performances have led to offense on the other end and have propelled the Panthers back in the playoff hunt, pushing Florida only 7 points back from the 8th seeded Philadelphia Flyers, who have played two more games than the Panthers.
If the Panthers don’t make the playoffs, Sateri’s performances will surely be the achievements that will be remembered. They are the achievements that will be recalled throughout the offseason. Ultimately, his short-term success will be the one that is viewed as the real turning point for this team.
While Harri Sateri may never become the Panthers’ long term option at goalie, he at least provides quality depth at the position, something that is needed with “Father Time” catching up on Luongo. Even if Sateri starts next season in the AHL with Springfield, it’s reassuring to know that Harri is waiting in the wings, ready if ever called upon again.