The Penguins’ new brain trust threw their support behind goaltender Tristan Jarry after his struggles led to another early exit for the team this postseason. At least publicly, the team claimed that they still believed in the 25-year-old as their starter. In fact, they went so far as to say that adding size and physicality was their only objective this off-season. Behind closed doors, the conversation seems to have gone differently. Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now reports that multiple sources close to the team confirm that the Penguins aim to add a veteran goaltender on the trade or free agent market this summer. While Kingerski calls the focus an “experienced backup”, in all likelihood that means they are looking for someone with starting experience to play 1B to Jarry’s 1A and take over if he again has issues. Frederik Andersen is a name that has already been linked to the Penguins, while other UFA options include Jonathan Bernier, James Reimer, Antti Raanta, Jaroslav Halak or Devan Dubnyk. Younger names like Linus Ullmark or Chris Driedger could really push Jarry if brought in. Trade options are numerous and the Expansion Draft will likely shake up the market, but Anton Khudobin stands out as an ideal fit for what the Penguins are looking for.
- Again, this means that Casey DeSmith is the odd man out – and not just on the depth chart. Kingerski put to rest any speculation to the contrary by stating definitively that Jarry will be protected by the Penguins in the impending Expansion Draft. That will leave DeSmith, 29, up for grabs for the Seattle Kraken, though the team will likely have better options elsewhere on the Pittsburgh roster. Nevertheless, DeSmith’s time with the Penguins could be running out. After outplaying Jarry in everything but games played this season, DeSmith has proven himself to be a solid backup in his own right. Injury prone and unaccustomed to a starter’s workload at the NHL level, teams may not be clamoring to acquire DeSmith, but he also is unlikely to clear waivers if the Penguins add another goalie.
- Another player that Kingerski confirms for the Penguins’ protection list in next month’s Expansion Draft: Evgeni Malkin. No, its not exactly a revelation. Not only is Malkin one of the faces of the franchise, but his contract also carries a No-Movement Clause, requiring him to be protected. Malkin could waive his NMC, but the team will not ask him to do that. That may seem like common sense, but after a down year by his standards, advancing age, an expensive contract, a serious injury that could carry over into the season, and very poor Expansion Draft outlook for their deep roster, the Penguins have plenty of reason to at least consider exposing Malkin. However, Kingerski adds that it probably would be a useless request anyway. As as has been the book on Malkin throughout his whole career, he would only leave Pittsburgh if he was traded to a Florida team, where he makes his home in the off-season. Seattle is on the other side of the continent.