Tristan Jarry has been the Pittsburgh Penguins’ No. 1 goaltender for the past few years, but he entered this offseason facing a couple of major — and potentially career-altering — questions.
With his contract expiring, where would he be playing in 2023-24? And, considering that injuries limited him to 47 appearances in 2022-23, would he be able to get completely healthy in time for the coming season?
Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations and interim GM, answered the first of those on July 1, when he signed Jarry to a five-year contract that carries a salary-cap hit of $5.375 million.
Jarry addressed the second during an online interview with the Pittsburgh media Thursday, saying that he will be “100 percent” healthy when he reports to training camp in September.
“It’s been a good offseason so far,” he said. “Come training camp, I’ll be ready and I’ll be 100 percent. I’m currently 100 percent right now.”
Jarry added that he has been “working every day, getting better and getting stronger, getting prepared for the season” although his physical issues forced him to modify his offseason training regimen.
“With the injuries I had last year, I had to adapt my training,” he said. “Being able to get stronger and fit in a different way has been a challenge in itself.”
The precise nature of Jarry’s injuries last season haven’t been divulged, but Jarry was emphatic that nothing he was dealing with qualifies as “chronic,” so it’s not something he fears will recur.
“The injuries I had were something that I don’t think I could have avoided,” he said. “It was something that happens, and it was something I had to deal with. I was dealing with it from, I want to say, since the beginning of training camp.
“Just being (unable) to get ahead of it, not really get over it, was the toughest thing for me. Not being able to play (the way) I wanted to and not being able to come to the rink every day, just knowing what I had to do. It was always something or another.”
Jarry’s personal linescore for last season — a 24-13-7 record, 2.90 goals-against and .909 save percentage — was lackluster and, he suggested, a direct result of not being healthy.
“It obviously limited me,” he said. “Whenever you do anything when you’re not feeling 100 percent, it’s tough to do. It’s tough to go out and be your best when you have things that are bothering you every day.
“I was very frustrated a lot of times (last) season, where I wasn’t performing and wasn’t playing up to the standards that I wanted to. There were points where I was playing well, and then there were points where I wasn’t. That’s what frustrated me the most. I just couldn’t get consistency with what was going on and everything that was happening.”
The contract Jarry received would seem to be a pretty good indication that the Pittsburgh Penguins believe his injury issues are behind him.
Dubas met with Jarry and his wife in Edmonton in June, and Jarry came away from that session encouraged by Dubas’ plan for the franchise, and his place it.
“That was good,” Jarry said. “It made me feel very confident in the way that the team was going. At the end of the day, there wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be.”
Still, he didn’t accept his new contract until several hours into the free-agency signing period, and acknowledged that several other teams showed interest in trying to lure him away from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“That was, I guess, part of the process,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of that. … Pittsburgh was the only team I was really talking to and the only team where I wanted to be.”
And he sounds like he’s convinced that the 2023-24 Penguins will be an upgrade on 2022-23 edition.
“I think we’re going to be a more competitive team,” Jarry said. “We’re a better team than we were last year, obviously. For all the returning guys, we never had any thoughts that we were going to miss the playoffs last year. It was very frustrating, very upsetting that that’s what happened. … This year, it’s going to change. Things are going to change.”