The Penguins have had a rough time so far when it comes to backups. We started off with free agent signing Antti Niemi, who played atrocious for the Penguins.
In 3 games, he had a .797 save percentage with a goals against average of 7.50. Although he was put in some rough positions, those number won’t cut it. Niemi ended up going on waivers and was soon picked up by the Panthers. Due to the newly opened spot, this is where Tristan Jarry can slot in.
Jarry, a former second round pick in 2013, has potential to be a legitimate starter in the NHL. He posted solid numbers last year with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He was third in the league in save percentage (minimum of 45 games played). Even though he has played consistently in the AHL, he does not have much NHL experience.
Last Thursday in Calgary, Jarry started to show his potential. Although the Penguins lost, Jarry kept the Penguins in it by making a lot of stellar saves. He only let up 2 goals and saved .941 percent of the shots. To put that into perspective, Matt Murray has a .908 save percentage on the entire year. These numbers are phenomenal, especially when you compare them to what Niemi provided.
For me, there are 3 options the Penguins have when it comes to Jarry. The first is having him split games with Murray. This is very unlikely as Murray is the Penguins permanent starter, but that could change if Jarry continues to play like he did.
The second is Jarry becoming the team’s permanent backup. The pro of this situation is that Jarry gets some NHL experience which can help his value and potential. The con of being a backup is that he won’t get as much playing time as he would in the AHL.
The third option is to keep Jarry in the AHL and sign a new backup goaltender. This would get Jarry consistent playing time and he could get called up if Murray ever goes down with an injury. Personally, I would love to see Jarry get some NHL time. Murray is the starter, but to see Jarry get some NHL time (whether it would be as a backup or splitting time with Murray) would be phenomenal for his growth.
The Penguins have been blessed with some incredible talent, and some not so incredible talent, in the goaltender department over the past few years. Will Jarry fill the open spot of the backup goaltender? His quality of play will decide that.