The NHL’s 2020 All-Star roster announcement on December 30th was poor timing when it came to the Metropolitan Division squad. The following day, it was announced that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo had undergone surgery on his right knee following an injury in his previous game and would require a four-to-six week recovery period, all but ruling him out for All-Star festivities. Within hours, it was reported that his would be All-Star teammate, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel, would require surgery on his shoulder for an injury that he too had just suffered in his last game would miss four-to-six months. Neither player would be available in St. Louis and the Metropolitan team would need replacements.
With Guentzel out, the Pittsburgh Penguins – who have missed more man-games than any team in the NHL this season – were without an All-Star representative. The NHL has now rectified that situation. The league has announced that breakout goaltender Tristan Jarry and veteran defenseman Kris Letang have been named the substitutes for Guentzel and Korpisalo at the All-Star Game and Skills Competition.
Jarry, who made just two NHL appearances last year and has less than 50 games to his credit through five pro seasons, is nevertheless worthy of an All-Star nod in recognition of his play this season. Jarry has been dominant by any measure through 20 games with the Penguins, to the point that he has supplanted incumbent Matt Murray as the team’s starter. At this point in time, Jarry holds the league’s best numbers across the board with a .935 save percentage, a stunning 1.99 GAA, and three shutouts to boot. Jarry looks to be developing into the real deal and this may end up being the first of many All-Star appearances for the young netminder.
Letang, a five-time All-Star, is a good choice for recognition any year, but has really stepped up offensively in the wake of many injuries for the Penguins, including long absences for both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Letang is on pace for a career-high 22 goals to go along with 57 points, despite the fact that he too missed eight games due to injury. Letang is as dynamic a talent on the back end as any defenseman in the league and will be a major asset for the Metropolitan squad in both skills contests and 3-on-3.