With the Seattle Kraken expansion draft right around the corner, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have just a couple of weeks before losing a player to the new team, and I think they should consider leaving Tristan Jarry off of their protection list. While this may be an unpopular opinion, I believe it is one that should be talked about, and here is why.
Plethora of Goaltending Options This Offseason
As I mentioned in a previous article, the Penguins have many different routes they can go this offseason when it comes to goaltending, as there will be many options on both the free-agent market and trade block. This is why I think if the Kraken chooses to select Jarry, it really won’t affect Pittsburgh much, and may even be a blessing in disguise.
Some options include Philipp Grubauer, Frederik Andersen, Chris Driedger in free agency, and Darcy Kuemper, Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner on the trade market. All of these options are better goaltenders than Jarry, and would make the team better going into the 2021-22 season.
While obviously goaltending is a very odd position, and really can’t be predicted on a season-by-season basis, it’s evident that all the goalies I named (and others also on the market) had better 2020-21 campaigns than Jarry did. This is shown with the likes of Fleury winning the Vezina and Grubauer being nominated, Lehner getting the starting nod late in the postseason, and Driedger stealing the crease from a $10 million goaltender during the season.
Apart from the early part of the 2019-20 season, Jarry really has been an average to below-average goaltender, and not a starter. This past season he had a .908 save percentage (SV%) and a minus-9.13 goals saved above expected (GSAx).
Ability to Free More Cap Space
Last offseason, Jarry was signed to a three-year extension worth $3.5 million annually until 2022-23. While obviously this contract doesn’t break the bank, it would be nice to clear up some money if he isn’t going to be the starting goaltender the team envisioned him to be last summer.
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Some goaltenders who are better than Jarry and are at a cheaper price include MacKenzie Blackwood, Jack Campbell, Calvin Petersen and Alexandar Georgiev, and I could see previously named players like Driedger making less than Jarry in free agency as well.
Jarry isn’t a bad goalie, but he is probably worth over $1 million less than what he is being paid right now, and that extra money could be crucial to the management’s attempt to improve the team this summer.
He Likely Wouldn’t Even Be Drafted
In all honesty, with the way Jarry played this postseason, along with how many quality NHL players the Penguins will have available in the draft, I doubt the Kraken end up choosing the netminder even if he is left unprotected.
The Kraken will likely have a bunch of goaltenders to choose from, and I just don’t think that Jarry would look as appealing to them as a player like Jared McCann or Jason Zucker would, unless their plan would be to try and flip him later on.
To me, I just think it’s worth it to expose Jarry. If he is drafted, it’s no big deal for the Penguins, and if he isn’t, it doesn’t matter either. There’s really no “risk” here, it’s just an attempt to get rid of him so the team can replace him this offseason.
The expansion draft is slowly coming up, and only time will tell what the Penguins opt to do as protection lists will soon be revealed, but no matter what, the Penguins will be losing somebody valuable, just like in 2017.