Penguins News & Rumors: Sullivan, Jarry & Free-Agent Targets

Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we’ll cover everything going on surrounding the beloved hockey team in Pittsburgh. For today’s segment, we’ll cover head coach Mike Sullivan’s extension, Tristan Jarry’s likelihood of re-signing next, who could be potential replacements should he leave, and which remaining free agents make some sense for the Penguins.

Mike Sullivan Rewarded With Contract Extension

The Penguins announced on Tuesday that coach Sullivan had signed a three-year contract extension which will kick in following the 2022-23 season. The bench boss is a tremendous leader who has the ability to connect to his players better than most coaches in sports. Regardless of the adversity surrounding the Penguins roster, he always seems able to get the most out of his group.

The gracious leader spoke highly about the organization and how much it means to him and his family. Sullivan took over the helm back in late 2015 and has since done nothing but win hockey games. Since he took over in Pittsburgh, he ranks fourth in regular-season wins with 297, and second with 44 Stanley Cup Playoff victories. His 297-156-54 record is impressive, and with every win, he will add to his record as the most winningest coach in franchise history.

This is a great move by general manager (GM) Ron Hextall. He’s shown this offseason that the team is still in win-now mode and considering all the pressure that comes with leading the Penguins, Hextall has made it look easy. The work doesn’t stop, however, as training camp is only a few weeks away and he will be trying to do whatever he can to upgrade his hockey team during the regular season.

Penguins Netminder Waiting on Extension

With coach Sullivan locked up, this coming after the likes of Rickard Rakell, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, and Kris Letang were all signed to long-term extensions, now the attention turns to goaltender Tristan Jarry.

Tristan Jarry Pittsburgh Penguins
Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Jarry is a pending unrestricted free agent who is currently making a very reasonable $3.5 million against the cap. His next contract will likely start in the $6 million range and at this point, the extension talks have been very quiet.

Related: 3 Pittsburgh Penguins Not Expected Back in 2023-24

Hextall seems happy with Jarry’s game and last summer even met with the Penguins goaltender to provide him with a vote of confidence and some job security. The 27-year-old went on to have a great season in 2021-22, however untimely injuries took his season off the rails.

Jarry is going to feel some added pressure this season as his contract status will be in the back of his mind. He’ll look to improve on his 2.42 goals against average (GAA), however, it’s all going to come down to what he can do in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His track record over the past two postseasons is something to forget about, so Hextall may want to wait and see what type of Stanley Cup Playoff performance the team sees out of their netminder this season before committing to anything long-term.

Penguins May Have Some Interesting Free-Agent Options

Should the team decide Jarry isn’t the right fit long-term in Pittsburgh, Hextall and company will have some interesting goalies to consider on the free-agent market:

Frederik Andersen

The Carolina Hurricanes are going to do whatever they can to keep Frederik Andersen in the fold, but if he hits the open market next July, the Penguins could be interested. He’s used to some serious pressure playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs and he showed last season that he’s still at the top of his game.

Frederik Andersen Carolina Hurricanes
Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Danish netminder finished the 2021-22 season, his first with the Hurricanes, tallying 35 wins and four shutouts. His 2.17 GAA was stellar to go along with an impressive .922 save percentage. There’s no denying Andersen is one of the best goaltenders in the league and should be on the Penguins’ radar.

Alex Nedeljkovic

The Detroit Red Wings surprised some by trading for Ville Husso this summer, leaving a potential break-up coming with goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. The 26-year-old was inconsistent in his first season with the Red Wings, after signing a two-year deal last summer.

Alex Nedeljkovic Detroit Red Wings
Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 6-foot goaltender enters this season in Detroit in more of a tandem role, as he will have to earn the crease battling it out with Husso. Nedeljkovic has shown in the past that he’s capable of being an elite netminder, much like we saw in 2020-21 with the Hurricanes when he posted a 1.90 GAA in 23 appearances. The issue here is the small sample size and the fact that he hasn’t been good enough for long enough. As such, the Penguins may be better suited locking up Jarry or keeping an eye on Andersen’s status instead.

Some other honorable mentions who may be hitting the free-agent market next summer include Jonathan Quick, Cam Talbot, Semyon Varlamov and Jake Allen. Hard to put Jarry behind any of those potential options at this point.

Thanks for stopping by today’s segment of Penguins News and Rumors. The Penguins roster appears all but set as training camp is only a few weeks away. Hextall has set the team up for another successful season and soon we’ll all find out if the team can once again surpass expectations in 2022-23.

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