Perhaps it was because the Pittsburgh Penguins management surveyed the upcoming UFA goalie crop and saw little or no affordable options. Perhaps it was because Casey DeSmith had a resurgent second half and helped the Penguins win games late in the season.
On Tuesday, the Penguins announced they signed DeSmith to a two-year deal with a $1.8 million AAV.
DeSmith, 30, rebounded to post an 11-6-5 record in 26 appearances. A late-season surge pushed his save percentage to .914 and his GAA down to 2.79, both respectable numbers for an affordable backup goalie.
There was some question if DeSmith would re-sign. Despite a solid second half, he was again unavailable in the playoffs due to injury. Penguins’ third goalie Louis Domingue relieved DeSmith in the second overtime of Game 1 and started Games 2-6.
Starter Tristan Jarry returned despite a badly injured foot to start the Penguins’ Game 7 OT loss to the New York Rangers.
The Penguins’ affable goalie, an avid disc golfer, has played 96 career games with a 43-28-11 record, a 2.67 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage, and nine shutouts.
DeSmith previously carried a $1.25 million cap hit on a three-year deal and spent the first of those three years with the WBS Penguins after Jarry passed on him on the depth chart.
DeSmith, 6-foot, 181-pounds, figures to resume his role as the Penguins’ backup behind Jarry. Dave Molinari did a review of potential backups who could sign in the $1 million range but found an unsatisfying list of free agent goalies.
The Penguins are still trying to re-sign UFAs Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Rickard Rakell, and Evan Rodrigues, as well as RFAs Kasperi Kapanen and Danton Heinen. The Penguins have until next week to offer the RFAs a Qualifying Offer, or they will lose the exclusive rights and rights to compensation if they sign elsewhere. Free agency begins on July 13.
The signing also begs the question if Penguins management is turning its attention away from Letang and Malkin to sign the secondary players, and also what that might mean.
Our friends at PuckPedia report, the salary for this coming season will be $1.7 million, and $1.9 million next season. The new deal does not provide any trade protection.
The Penguins have about $21.4 million salary-cap space remaining.
The #LetsGoPens re-signed 30 y/o UFA G Casey DeSmith to 2 year $1.8M Cap Hit Deal:
Yr 1 $1.7M Salary
Yr 2 $1.9M Salary
Does not include trade protection
914 SV% in 26 GP
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 5, 2022