Surprise! Penguins Keep Jarry, Waive DeSmith: News & Analysis
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Surprise! Penguins Keep Jarry, Waive DeSmith: News & Analysis



Pittsburgh Penguins Tristan Jarry

The Pittsburgh Penguins chose Tristan Jarry over Casey DeSmith Monday as the deadline to become salary cap compliant entered it’s final hours. Jarry and DeSMith were in a training camp battle for the backup position which DeSmith held last season.

The Penguins will save $375,000 by keeping Jarry, who makes only $675,000, because the maximum a team can save by sending an NHL contract through waivers is $1.05 million. If DeSmith is claimed, the Penguins would be free of the $1.25 million and lower their cap hit by $575,000. If DeSmith is not claimed, the Penguins will be on the hook for DeSmith’s full $1.25 million salary, regardless if he plays in the AHL or NHL.

DeSmith signed a three-year NHL contract last season.

DeSmith, 28, played 36 games last season with a healthy .917 save percentage. DeSmith’s steady play allowed Penguins coaches to create a goalie competition in order spur starter Matt Murray. DeSmith started three straight games in front of Murray twice last season.

Three veteran goalies were waived Monday. In addition to DeSmith, Eric Comrie and Anton Forsberg hit the wire.

Jarry, 24, has played 29 career NHL games and posted a .906 save percentage, but played in only two NHL games last season. The move will inch the Penguins just beneath the salary cap limit, by about $44,000. The space will also give the Penguins more time to complete a trade to free additional salary.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

Penguins Analysis:

Jarry was the Penguins goalie of the future. The former second-round pick was passed quickly by Matt Murray then DeSmith en route to the NHL. When Murray battled injuries in 2017-18, Jarry played 26 games with a 14-6-2 record.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound goalie is a combination of athleticism and size. Jarry has not yet been exposed at the NHL level by sharpshooters, so his weaknesses are not yet common knowledge. He moves very well and has an active stick.

Jarry is also known to be one of the guys in the locker room and not the stereotypical isolated goalie.

The Penguins swallowed hard and made a hard choice. DeSmith is the sure thing but does not have the same pedigree. Jarry could be a starting NHL goalie. In the AHL last season, Jarry played 47 games behind a depleted roster. He was 23-23-4 with a solid .915 save percentage.

One factor to consider, Rutherford may have put DeSmith through waivers to facilitate a trade. If a team were more interested in Jarry, keeping him on the NHL roster would prevent a lurking team from claiming him for free.

Regardless of the motivation, this is Jarry’s moment. He will play NHL games and he will have to be good. The Penguins cannot afford to drop points behind subpar goaltending, nor are they in a position to be patient. Murray has struggled to stay healthy and has not yet played 50 games in one season. The Penguins backup goaltenders have played an important role for the past four seasons, including Marc-Andre Fleury, DeSmith and Jarry.

As a Pittsburgh Penguin, it may be now or never for Tristan Jarry.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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  1. Cal

    September 30, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    I’m not really surprised that much. Cheaper with Jarry and the difference between the two (Jarry -DeSmith) isn’t really that big (debatable, yes) but I think Jarry has way more upside. But it is a cap world.

    • Dan Kingerski

      September 30, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      I’ve advocated this move, but truthfully, I didn’t think they would. My headline may reflect my surprise more than anything.

  2. Hatrick Pornqvist

    September 30, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Since nobody has commented on Jack Johnson yet, let me be the first.

    There are several scenarios here.

    One, they are trading Johnson, and have found a couple of trading partners, and are waiving DeSmith to remain cap compliant until that happens. In this scenario they are risking losing a good back up just because a deal for Johnson wasn’t completed by today’s deadline for teams to be cap compliant. There’s a lot to unpack there. On one hand it could mean that it wasn’t risky to waive DeSmith because GMJR knows that there is no interest in him and he will clear waivers. If one were to believe that a deal for Jack Johnson was imminent, then this allows for that hypothetical to still be on the table. If they know that they are about to move Johnson, AND that nobody is going to take DeSmith, then no risk involved. Just buying time.

    The second scenario is that they are having trouble moving Johnson and that they were forced to do this because there was no deal, or a deal fell through at the last minute, forcing their hand with sending DeSmith through waivers. This is also plausible.

    Another scenario would be that they felt for whatever reason that Jarry was the guy they wanted to be the back up, that he won the battle in camp, and that DeSmith going through waivers didn’t bother them all that much. This seems less likely, knowing that GMJR values his goaltending depth, and knowing that Murray has a history of getting hurt. I highly doubt Rutherford wanted to risk losing a goalie for nothing. There were rumors of him trying to trade one but nothing came to fruition. I don’t think this is him just saying oh well, too bad, lets get rid of DeSmith.

    There are probably more scenarios but those three, along with the one Dan outlined in the article where they are trying to keep a team from scooping up Jarry for free, are the ones I think are very likely. If they were trying to protect Jarry from being traded I think they would have already moved DeSmith if there was a trading partner. If they were willing to trade Jarry I feel like it would’ve happened by now for a minimal return. That is why I think this was their hand being forced by circumstance.

    My guess is they had a deal for Johnson on the table, but it didn’t go through in time, or fell apart altogether, which forced them to do what they did. I think they know what they have in him, they had one or more deals on the table for him, maybe involving Rust who became untradeable due to injury concerns, and the deal fell through, and Johnson remains a Penguin. I think DeSmith clears waivers anyways, and GMJR bides his time now, and Sullivan gives Riikola a longer look.

    • Dan Kingerski

      September 30, 2019 at 10:08 pm

      A few more comments like that and I may have to offer you a job.

      • Hatrick Pornqvist

        October 1, 2019 at 12:10 am

        I accept your challenge and your possible offer!

        (PS, how many is a few?)

  3. BIG B

    September 30, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Jarry won 14 games two years ago and was outstanding with a couple of bad games that hurt his save % .Last year he played 2 games and was fantastastic in his first game game against Boston which he lost in OT.He had a bad second game that hurt his numbers so the narrative that Casey outplayed him is false as he was sent to the minors last year because he did not need waivers.No matter what the cap hits it was the smartest move to keep him when they have not signed Murray long term yet.I would bet there is about a 75% chance that DeSmith goes unclaimed due to his 3 year contract.If Colorado does not take him i say nobody will and then if they want they can work out a Jarry trade with the teams who were waiting for him to go on waivers.


    • Hatrick Pornqvist

      September 30, 2019 at 8:02 pm

      There a “Johnson” joke in there somewhere. I’ll spare everyone but it’s killing me.

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