The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to look much different next season, on and off the ice. Ownership made sweeping changes to the management team just weeks ago and the Penguins roster heads into a very uncertain offseason which will see a number of different players brought in and current Pens shipped out.
Starting netminder Tristan Jarry is one player to watch as he’s a pending free agent who wants to stay in Pittsburgh, however this isn’t necessarily a mutual feeling from the organization. Once the new general manager is hired, the picture will become a little more clearer. Let’s assume Jarry doesn’t get re-signed, here’s a few goalies the Penguins should consider making their starter for the 2023-24 season:
The Carolina Hurricanes have youngster Pyotr Kochetkov signed to a long-term contract at a very reasonable $2 million annually, and it appears they will be letting Frederik Andersen hit the open market this summer. The Penguins should be one of the many teams who will have interest.
The 33-year-old veteran is coming off a contract where he made $4.5 million in 2022-23. He’s show absolute flashes of brilliance in the past and while his Stanley Cup Playoff success hasn’t been well documented, Andersen’s numbers are impressive. He’s capable of stealing games and he’s the type of steady veteran presence the Penguins could use more of.
Andersen’s the type of goalie that fits the Penguins win-now mindset. There’s been some health concerns with his knee over the course of the past few seasons but if he’s indeed healthy heading into next season, the new Penguins general manager (GM) should strongly consider signing Andersen to a two-year contract.
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In 2022-23, the Danish netminder posted a 21-11-1 record with a 2.48 goals against average. He’s yet to play in the Hurricanes first-round matchup against the New York Islanders as Antti Raanta has been given the crease so far in these playoffs.
If Andersen is healthy, he’s one of the very best goalies in the league. The Penguins need to have him towards the top of their wish list this summer.
When it comes to the trade market, there’s the likes of Mackenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils who may get some trade calls, or even John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks for that matter. However, if the Penguins are going to trade for a new starting netminder, they should be looking at Karel Vejmelka of the Arizona Coyotes.
The 6-foot-3 southpaw is regarded as one of the very best goalies in the league and it just so happens he plays for one of the worst teams in front of him. Vejmelka is only 26 years old, he’s in the prime of his career and he’s signed through the 2024-25 season with no trade protection, at an annual cap hit of $2.72 million. An absolute steal of a contract and long-term security, the Penguins would need to pony up some pieces here to finalize a deal, however we’ve seen in the past, anyone off the Coyotes is available for the right price.
Trading for a new goalie would be the kind of bold move the new Penguins GM could pull off to get the fan base on their side. Show everyone that they mean business and they have taken the job to win a Stanley Cup in 2023-24.
If you followed the Vegas Golden Knights and their goaltending drama this season, you’ll know the name, as Laurent Brossoit was lights out in a very small sample size in 2022-23. He’s currently starting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and as of today (Apr.25) has propelled the Golden Knights to a 3-1 series lead over his old team, the Winnipeg Jets.
The 30-year-old Brossoit will enter this upcoming offseason as an unrestricted free agent who went 7-0-3 during the regular season with an impressive .927 save percentage. The success has continued early on during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs and all Brossoit is doing is adding extra zeros to his bank account.
The backup turned starter is making $2.3 million against the cap this season and given his recent success, will likely be fetching a contract that starts in the $3.5-4 million range for 2023-24 and beyond. He’s young enough where a team could give him a three-year contract and the Penguins should be one of the many teams to consider Brossoit a primary option.
The Penguins new management regime will have just over $20 million in cap space to work with this summer and a long list of tasks on the ‘to-do list’. Solidifying a starting goaltender is going to be at the very top of the list, and if they decide to walk away from Jarry and change directions, look for Andersen, Vejmelka and Brossoit to make the final list of potential candidates.