The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered more than one loss in the 2023 Winter Classic. They also lost starting goaltender Tristan Jarry to a lower-body injury. Jarry’s status and return date are unclear, forcing the Penguins to recall Dustin Tokarski from the AHL in the interim.
If Jarry misses a long stretch of time, the Penguins will have to think long and hard about finding a replacement for a playoff push. Here are some league goalies the Penguins might be interested in.
The group “Beginners”
1. Jake Allen – Montreal Canadiens
The 32-year-old goaltender was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens to replace Carey Price, but due to injuries and missed time, Allen found himself starting this season. The Canadians are still struggling this season and are still in the growing pains of a rebuild. Allen is also struggling, with a losing record of 9-15-1.
Despite the difficulties, Allen is a veteran who can handle a heavy workload. He has a career save percentage of .910 and a goals-against-average of 2.66 per game. He’s also a player who could easily come on as a substitute when Jarry returns and shouldn’t be too expensive to acquire.
2. Karel Vejmelka – Arizona Coyotes
If the Penguins were to make a bigger trade, it would be for Karel Vejmelka of the Arizona Coyotes. The 26-year-old right-handed goalkeeper is one of the only bright spots in the desert this season. Vejmelka is currently 11-11-4, with an average of 3.23 and a save percentage of 0.906, quite impressive figures considering that the Yotes score less than three goals per game and give up more than 3. ,5. He carries a cap of $2.725 million for the next two seasons and would require a larger Penguins return
3. Cam Talbot – Ottawa Senators
Of the available goaltenders, Cam Talbot of the Ottawa Senators is the best option. Even at 35, Talbot is still a solid starter in this league. He started 20 games with the Senators this season, going 10-9-1 with a 2.74 GAA and .911 save percentage. He played a big part in why the Senators have a game over .500 right now.
The Penguins should at least part ways with a second-round pick and a hope for that trade to happen.
Split the net with Casey DeSmith
1. Kevin Lankinen – Nashville Predators
With limited cap space and the Penguins’ long-lasting assets, they’ll likely have to look for cheaper options that can share the net with Casey DeSmith until Jarry returns. Kevin Lankinen, the replacement for Jusse Saros in Nashville, could be a perfect fit.
Lankinen is a 27-year-old goaltender with experience backing up and starting, having started 32 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2021-22. This year, he’s only played nine games as a substitute, but he’s 3-4-1 with a 2.91 GAA and .907 save percentage. He could certainly help keep the net in the meantime, and would cost minimal to acquire. As a bonus, he only carries a $1.5 million cap on an expiring contract.
2. James Reimer – San Jose Sharks
Perhaps the best overall option for the Penguins is veteran James Reimer, currently with the San Jose Sharks. The 34-year-old has played all over the league and has a career save percentage of .912. In 21 games this season with the Sharks, he is 7-11-3. While not the most statistically impressive season of his career, Reimer would bring calm stability to the Penguins net in Jarry’s absence.
Reirmer is in the first of a two-year contract that carries a $2.25 million cap and would most likely cost a second- or third-round draft pick or a higher-tier prospect to acquire.
The Penguins have an interesting decision to make. If Jarry misses a lot of time, does training trust a tandem of DeSmith and Tokarski? Or do they feel the need to bring in another goalkeeper? If they go the trade route, expect some of those players listed above to get more buzz about being a Penguins trade target.
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