3 Free-Agent Goalies Who Should Be On Pittsburgh Penguins’ Radar

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager (GM) Ron Hextall has his plate full at the moment as the long-time executive has a number of major decisions looming for the franchise this offseason. It has already been a busy one for the Penguins GM and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. While contract extensions for Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin are just two of the orders of business, so too is finding some goaltending depth for next season. We saw the desire to stand pat in the crease at this season’s trade deadline and quite frankly that didn’t work at all. The Penguins need more depth behind starter Tristan Jarry, so let’s take a look at three free agents who could help in that regard.

Scott Wedgewood

The Dallas Stars picked up Scott Wedgewood before the trade deadline last season via the Arizona Coyotes and the 29-year-old was solid in his eight appearances during the regular season. He posted a .915 save percentage (SV%) down the stretch and will certainly be hearing from teams when free agency begins on July 13.

Scott Wedgewood Arizona Coyotes
Scott Wedgewood. Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While Wedgewood would likely be the type of goaltender Hextall and company can afford this summer, the only issue is the fact that he has no Stanley Cup Playoff experience under his belt. We saw with Jarry going down at the wrong time what kind of pressure can stack up for the backup goaltender and Penguins fans are likely wondering if Wedgewood can be that guy.

Related: Penguins Have 7 Interesting Options Should Kris Letang Leave Pittsburgh

The former third-round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils posted a 13-15-6 record last season on two bad teams with the Devils and Coyotes and went 3-1-3 down the stretch for the Stars. His collective .910 SV% should get the attention of Hextall who could see potentially see Wedgewood hitting his stride with the much more structured Penguins.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Ever since Marc-Andre Fleury left the Penguins back in 2017-18 via the Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft, the veteran netminder has been linked to a return to Pittsburgh. This offseason fans may finally get what they’ve been wishing for as it’s never been closer to actually happening.

Fleury has gone through all of the emotions since leaving the Penguins as the Golden Knights teams he was a part of were stellar and the city was buzzing as the new hit in town. Meanwhile, last season it all came crashing down after winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best netminder. He was then of course traded to the Chicago Blackhawks who went from the busiest team in the offseason stacking up new talent, to a full rebuild mid-season which angered their core players. They then dealt ‘The Flower’ to the Minnesota Wild and that’s where we stand right now.

Marc-Andre Fleury Minnesota Wild
Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Fleury seems like the type of person who would totally take a home-town discount to get back into the Penguins’ dressing room with best friends Sidney Crosby, Letang and Malkin, but let’s be honest here, if the team lets the latter two walk, it’s doubtful he would consider the move.

Hextall and company should try to get the two franchise legends locked up before July 13 when free agency begins so they have a good sense of just how much money they can play with for Fleury to return. It would likely be a one or two-year deal so the legendary goaltender can finish out his career where it all began.

The kicker in all of this is the fact this move isn’t just for the heart strings, it’s for the win column too. Fleury is a massive upgrade over the likes of Casey DeSmith and Louis Domingue and there’s no doubt he still has the game to push Jarry for starter minutes. It would be a healthy competition and likely one that would produce positive results. Pittsburgh is a better place with Fleury around, so Hextall needs to make every effort to make this happen.

Eric Comrie

Eric Comrie is one of the rare ‘Group 6 Free-Agents’ this summer and should totally be on the Penguins’ radar as the 26-year-old is expected to test the open market in early July. Last season, he went 10-5-1 for the Winnipeg Jets, posting a 2.58 GAA and a .920 SV%. He appeared in a career-high 19 games last season as Winnipeg finally gave him a serious look in their crease.

Eric Comrie Winnipeg Jets
Eric Comrie, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Edmonton, AB native is coming off a contract where he made only $750,000 and with his service time being only 28 career NHL games, he doesn’t hold a ton of leverage in negotiations, which could work in the favor of the Penguins. This move would be a bit of a risk just based on the fact Comrie isn’t seasoned or proven to some degree, but it’s one that could have serious dividends should he continue to develop into a stellar netminder.

The Penguins are in the middle of one of the most important offseasons in franchise history and the decisions of Hextall and the rest of management will have lasting impacts on the organization for years to come. Bringing back Letang and Malkin should be priority number one, and after that Hextall needs to address the need for goaltending depth. These three goalies would help immensely, with one of them being the fan favorite for a reunion. We’ll see if Penguins management is able to plant “The Flower” back in Pittsburgh or if they will be turning to some different options come summertime.

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