A lot can be said about the latest Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff performance. The easiest target to blame for their failure would be goaltender Tristan Jarry. His play was underwhelming, and he made costly mistakes. Because of this, some fans are demanding he be traded. However, this should not happen. Jarry is young and he will use this as a learning experience. What he could really benefit from is a veteran goalie to learn from. There have been rumblings that the Penguins may be searching for a veteran goalie, and there are a few likely candidates.
Goaltending In Recent Years
In the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, Pittsburgh had an incredible goalie tandem. Marc-Andre Fleury was their go-to as he was consistently solid since being drafted in 2003. When Fleury suffered a concussion in the 2015-2016 season, Matt Murray had to step up to the plate. Did he ever rise up to the challenge. Murray’s performance was one of, if not, the biggest influencers on Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victory in 2016.
The 2016-2017 season was just as successful as Fleury remained solid and Murray seemed to be learning everything from the veteran goaltender. Unfortunately in the offseason, Fleury was picked by the Vegas Golden Knights, leaving Murray as the starter. Although he was astounding in the previous seasons, his play deteriorated quickly. Murray was traded in 2020 to the Ottawa Senators, leaving Tristan Jarry to start.
Although Jarry did have some flashes of brilliance, one main problem he had was that he didn’t have a veteran goalie to learn from. The closest person he had as a mentor was Murray, and he didn’t have nearly enough experience to be one. Seeing as Jarry is still young, a veteran goalie could teach him and make him even better.
Like Fleury was amazing for the Penguins for years, Frederik Andersen has been a great goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs acquired Andersen in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks and has been solid since his acquisition. His play during the regular season is alright as he has an overall .915 save percentage and a 2.65 goals against average.
Andersen’s performance with the Maple Leafs recently has been rough. He struggled this season, so much so that backup Jack Campbell is looking like Toronto’s future starter. Andersen’s contract ends this year, and because of Campbell’s success he likely won’t be resigned. As an unrestricted free agent, he is a great option for the Penguins if they decide to pursue a veteran goalie.
If the Penguins feel like shelling out more money for a veteran, they could end up targeting Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask. Rask has had an extremely decorated career as he has won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie in 2014. He also won the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2020, and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Rask is a bit older at the age of 34, but this means he has only more experience to teach Jarry. Another reason he could be a great mentor is because he had a great one himself. Rask started playing in the NHL in 2008 and was the backup to Tim Thomas, an incredibly talented goalie. Rask knows what it takes to win, and his experience could be paramount to Pittsburgh’s success. However, it is still unclear whether or not the Bruins will resign Rask. Even if they don’t, other teams will be fighting to have his experience on their roster.
Acquiring a veteran goalie to take Jarry under their wing could only improve his capabilities. Seeing as Jarry never really had a mentor, he could benefit greatly. Not only that, but a veteran goaltender could help push the Penguins past the first round of the playoffs. Nevertheless, if the Penguins are to make any splashes in free agency this year, they should target a goalie.