You can’t help but get really excited when you see players like Casey DeSmith sign contract extensions in the NHL. Undrafted out of the University of New Hampshire, DeSmith worked his way from minor league backup to a goalie who pressed two-time Stanley Cup-winning netminder Matt Murray for playing time.
Getting a three-year extension was well deserved for the now 27-year-old DeSmith, but as the new deal was announced it has to be asked... where does that leave Tristan Jarry?
Goaltender of the future that never was
Sometimes teams unintentionally put added expectations on players, whether it be due to their draft status or being included in a trade that involved a popular player. Jarry had a little bit of both mixed into how he joined the Penguins’ organization.
Drafted in the second round back in 2013, Jarry was the second netminder selected overall behind Zachary Fucale and the Penguins moved up in the draft to put themselves in position to take him. They moved up by trading pending free agent and team and fan favorite, Tyler Kennedy, who was unlikely to re-sign with Pittsburgh.
Despite taking two goalies the year prior (one being Murray), the Penguins couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draft Jarry, and the Western Hockey League (WHL) product quickly became anointed the successor to Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh.
A year after Murray’s record-breaking American Hockey League (AHL) debut, Jarry turned professional and spent most of the season backing him up.
With Murray finding a permanent spot in the NHL, Jarry took over the net for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and quickly emerged as one of the top goalies in the AHL. In 45 games played, Jarry posted a 2.15 goals-against-average (GAA) to go along with a .925 save percentage (SV%).
Unfortunately, Jarry has yet to be able to re-find his magical 2016/2017 season, at either the AHL level or translating any of it to the NHL.
The opportunities have been there. Murray has seen his fair string of injuries during his short career, including missing time for a concussion on multiple occasions. Jarry was never able to take control of the open spot, instead of watching DeSmith do so.
In their brief sample size at the NHL level, it hasn’t even been close as to who has been better, and the Penguins rewarded the right player with a contract extension.
What to do with Jarry?
While keeping depth (especially at the goalie position) is crucial to any organization, Jarry’s days as a member of the Penguins’ organization could be numbered. The question is, how much better do the Penguins get by trading him? Would any trade be worth weakening a position that has had known injury issues?
A lot of teams would jump at an opportunity to add a 23-year-old netminder with starting potential to their system, but few are going to pay the price for someone who hasn’t looked the part in the brief time he has he has performed at the highest level of competition.
The Penguins might be pressed into making a move, however, if not before the deadline, definitely before the start of next season. This is the last season that Jarry will be exempt from waivers, meaning the Penguins would be forced to carry three goalies or risk losing him for nothing.
Jarry has one more year left on his current contract, and while it would be nice to keep him stashed in the minors - especially with the expansion draft for the Seattle franchise looming, there would be no way he would pass through waivers.
Once the goalie that most believed would be the future of the Penguins, Jarry is still very young in goalie years and could very much end up a starter in the NHL.
However, with the signing of DeSmith and Murray already under contract, it appears as if Jarry does become a starter, it just won’t be for Pittsburgh.
What should the Penguins do with Jarry? Should they trade him now and try to maximize on his return, or play it safe and hold on to him as an insurance policy? Let us know in the comment section below!