After surprising performances during the 2017-18 season, the underline question towards Harri Sateri will be his role in the following year.
Harri Sateri was certainly a lifesaver in certain moments of the season, helping propel the Cats into a more respectable standing. While he started off rough in his first few games, once the ball started rolling, so did Sateri’s play, winning a total of four games consecutively and helping the Panthers push forward in climbing the standings.
Out of his nine games played during the 2017-18 campaign, Harri boasted a respectable SV% (Save Percentage) of .911 and a solid GAA (Goals Against Average) of 2.92. For a goaltender who’s never seen action in the NHL before, it’s safe to say that Harri held his own pretty well, stealing the show against the New York Islanders on January 30th, stopping 33 shots and recording a SV% of .970 in his first career NHL win.
His second instance of ‘stealing the show’ would certainly have to be against the Vancouver Canucks on February 6th, stopping 27 shots and recording a .963 SV% on the night to give the Cats their fourth straight victory in their last four games.
But, apart from him stepping in and taking charge of the starting position while James Reimer and Roberto Luongo were nursing their respective injuries, the underline question is what role will Harri Sateri play during the 2018-19 season?
To answer that, he’s going to play in the same role as he did during the previous season: as a third netminder. Nothing will change for the starter and backup position. Roberto Luongo owns the starting position until he decides to hang up the skates for good, while James Reimer is unquestionably the Panthers’ backup netminder.
That leaves Sateri as the Panthers’ third goaltender, filling in as a backup when one of Luongo or Reimer go down, or serving as the starter if both Lu and Reimer go down (or even if one isn’t playing well).
Having Sateri as your third netminder isn’t actually a bad thing. We know what he’s capable of, despite the small sample size in games played during the previous year. At just 28-years-old, Harri has both the skill and maturity to handle this role, showing that he can be counted on in moments of desperation and need. There’s no one more fit in the Panthers’ pipeline who I would see as the better third netminder.
While Sateri’s contract is up this summer (set to become a UFA), it shouldn’t take much for both parties to reach an agreement during the offseason. Florida can easily extend his contract to another season or two, paying him just under the million dollar mark annually (a slight increase in salary).
Don’t let his Free Agent status scare you or worry you either. Very few teams will likely pursue the availability of acquiring his services, which should make contract negotiations a little easier for the Panthers in the summer. Ideally, a contract should be reached fairly quickly, as Harri is no hot commodity on the market, nor is he a starting goaltender either.
The Florida Panthers have a solid goalie tandem going into next season with Roberto Luongo as their starter and James Reimer as their backup. Furthermore, if negotiations in the summer go accordingly (which they should), the Cats have themselves a really good trio covering the crease, with Harri Sateri resuming as the Panthers’ third netminder.