The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced they signed goaltender Dustin Tokarski to a one-year AHL contract Monday. Tokarski was part of the Calder Trophy-winning Charlotte Checkers and started five playoff games for Charlotte on their way to the AHL championship.
Since Tokarski is on an AHL contract, he is not technically part of the Penguins NHL roster and does not count against the salary cap, however, the move is an obvious sign the Penguins are adding depth to the AHL net and a capable, NHL experienced third goalie.
Tokarski, 29, has played 34 career NHL games since 2009-10. His longest stint in the NHL was 2014-15 with the Montreal Canadiens when he appeared in 17 games. That season, he was 6-6-4 with a .910 save percentage and 2.75 goals against average. Tokarski has not appeared in the NHL since 2016-17 when he appeared in one game for the Anaheim Ducks.
Last season, Tokarski appeared in 28 games split between Hartford and Charlotte before appearing in five playoff games for Charlotte, too. He had a .956 regular season save percentage in the seven games with Charlotte and a .901 save percentage in 21 games with Hartford.
Tokarski is 6-foot, 198-pounds and has a career 10-12-5 record in the NHL with a .904 save percentage.
Finnish rookie Emil Larmi, 22, is also expected to challenge for playing time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, so the move raises red flags that a following move could be forthcoming.
Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry has been mentioned in trade rumors and will have an NHL only contract this season. He will need to clear waivers to be assigned to the WBS Penguins. Though the Penguins NHL depth chart is also full with Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith as the starter and backup, respectively.
Jarry, 24, is set to make $675,000 this season and is generally accepted to have a starting goalie pedigree, which makes him attractive to other teams. Last season, Jarry’s record was 23-23-4 behind an underpowered WBS Penguins team but he posted a healthy .915 save percentage.
The signing doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Jarry’s time with the Penguins, however it does signal the Penguins preparing for the eventuality they will move one goaltender sooner or later.
The Penguins don’t need to move Jarry, as he will cost $575,000 less than current backup Casey DeSmith, and GM Jim Rutherford has admitted teams have called on both goalies. It would not be far-fetched for the Penguins to keep Jarry because he has a higher ceiling than DeSmith. PHN laid out the larger scenario, Sunday.
It should be noted for the same reasons the Penguins should be tempted to keep Jarry, other teams are calling. Jarry could be an NHL backstop this season and his raw talent indicates he could be a long-time starter. Jarry is 6-foot-2 and plays the position with an athletic edge. The WBS Penguins were not a strong team last season but Jarry still managed to post solid numbers.
Larmi could play in the ECHL, as well. It isn’t unheard of for goalies to start their North American career in that league, though the possibility seems remote because of Larmi’s Finnish success. However, that could be the short term solution if the Penguins begin the season with Jarry and DeSmith still in the organization.
The other shoe is getting closer to dropping. But which one drops is not as obvious as one may assume.