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NHL Trade Talk: What Goalie Surplus Means for Penguins, Tristan Jarry



Pittsburgh Penguins, Tristan Jarry, New York Islanders

Over the last few days, things happened in a hurry, changing the NHL landscape with available goalies. In rapid-fire succession, we learned Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson again requested a trade, the Nashville Predators took calls on Vezina Trophy snub Juuse Saros, and the latest explosion on the NHL trade chatter was the Philadelphia Flyers opening phone lines for calls on their young goalie Cart Hart.

Winnipeg Jets Vezina nominee Connor Hellebuyck is also believed to be available.

In the shadow of the NHL trade chatter, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a decision looming to sign or let Tristan Jarry walk.

Jarry, 27, would likely be the most sought-after goalie on the free agent market on July 1, but the suddenly available goaltenders will certainly factor into president of hockey operations/interim GM Kyle Dubas‘s calculations.

“(We’ll) get a real scope of who will be available, whether that’s in free agency or trade,” said Dubas during his introductory press conference on June 1. “And then if Tristan is at the top of that mix or in that mix — because he’s familiar and you know him — it’ll be to try to establish a concept that can get done with him and his agent.”

There’s also the matter of Vegas Golden Knights netminder Adin Hill, who is seizing the Stanley Cup and, in the process, a healthy pay raise on July 1.

That scope of availabilities has changed significantly since Dubas spoke, but not necessarily for the Penguins.

It seems unlikely they have the necessary trade capital to get the big names on the market. Various reports, including from Nashville Hockey Now and San Jose Hockey Now, indicate the Predators asked for two first-round picks plus more for Saros, and the asking price is believed to start there on Hart.

However, the glut of goalie availabilities figures to change who might be interested in Jarry on July 1.

Less demand equals less money.

Suddenly, the Dubas and the Penguins could pull back on negotiations (if they’ve decided to engage) and see where the merry-go-round of potential stops.

The market has shifted in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ favor, certainly not in Jarry’s favor over the past couple of weeks. While Jarry may have the talent to be included among players like Saros, Hellebuyck, and Gibson, his last two years have not been good enough to raise his demand.

Jarry’s playoff performances in the past two seasons were limited to one gutsy game on a badly injured ankle, and his most recent regular season was another injury-filled slog.

Young teams on the cusp of playoff contention, such as the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres, figured to be the most desperate on the free agent market. However, if they snag a top-shelf goalie via trade, the July 1 buyers could become the rebuilding and retooling teams that traded away the goalies.

And those rebuilding teams would be foolish to lavish money on a goalie.

What was thought to be Jarry’s moment to cash in might become the Penguins’ moment to get a good deal. Suddenly, there is no hurry, either.

High Price Tags

General managers have traditionally undervalued goalies. To hear of such astronomical price tags as two first-rounders plus more is a sign of updated thinking.

Teams want draft picks and don’t want veteran salary cap hits.

At the NHL trade deadline, the LA Kings made the only starting goalie trade by acquiring Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov for a first and third-round pick. The Kings also attached faded goalie Jonathan Quick to the deal for salary cap reasons.

For additional comparison on the changing marketplace,

Last summer, the Vegas Golden Knights acquired backup goalie Adin Hill for a fourth-rounder. At the 2022 NHL trade deadline, the Dallas Stars used a third-rounder on Scott Wedgewood.

There have been only two starting goalie trades in the last few years. At the 2022 NHL trade deadline, the Minnesota Wild acquired Marc-Andre Fleury for a second-rounder, with conditions that could have made it a first (not met).

In 2021, the Avalanche acquired Darcy Kuemper from Arizona for a first, a third, and talented but struggling prospect Conor Timmons.

In that moment, a first, third, and a young project was seen as a significant overpay by Joe Sakic and Colorado.

GMs can ask for high price tags, and the next few weeks will determine if the inflation has also come to the NHL trade market, but if GMs don’t get their wishes by the end of the NHL Draft, there will be a lot of available goalies with declining prices.

It probably means a Penguins decision on Jarry won’t be forthcoming soon. Unless Dubas gets a good deal or decides Jarry is unquestionably the goalie they want, he has every incentive to let the market play out.