A busy morning for goalie deals continues. The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced a new three-year, $10.5MM contract with young keeper Tristan Jarry. The extension, which buys out one UFA year, keeps the 25-year-old restricted free agent under contract through the 2022-23 season at an AAV of $3.5MM. CapFriendly reports that the deal breaks down as follows:
If these numbers seem slightly familiar, they should. Matt Murray, the Penguins’ “goalie of the future” just three short years ago, signed a three-year, $3.75MM AAV contract when his entry-level deal expired. He earned the slight edge over Jarry given that he had more experience at the time and had helped the Penguins to two Stanley Cup titles, but the deal did not buy out any UFA years. Murray is now a restricted free agent as well, but the Penguins made it clear early on this off-season that they would move forward with Jarry and that Murray is on the trade block. The cap-strapped club would love to keep both young goalies, but that does not appear to be in the cards, especially with the salary that Murray expects to command.
Of course, the decision was not just about money. Jarry was clearly the superior option this season, despite it being just his second season of regular NHL action. In a career-high 33 appearances, he set new personal bests with 20 wins, a 2.43 goals against average, and a .921 save percentage. His GAA and SV% ranked among the top ten goalies in the NHL and after a few roster changes the rookie even earned an All-Star nod. He was also stellar in his one playoff appearance this year, leaving many Pittsburgh fans to wonder why Murray got the majority of starts in the team’s qualifying round upset.
Jarry appears to be the real deal, but the Penguins are not done tweaking their situation in net. First, the team will need to find a taker for Murray, who the team will likely be forced to make a qualifying offer to by Wednesday’s deadline. Next, they will likely need to evaluate the veteran backup options on the free agent and trade markets. Jarry has still never even played half of an NHL season (41 games) in a year, never mind a starter’s load. AHLer Casey DeSmith has some experience at the top level, but might not be the best backup option next season given his lack of NHL starts as well. Look for the Penguins to stay involved in the goalie market as both buyers and sellers.