The Pittsburgh and Toronto hockey markets couldn’t be more different. Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and just came off their first, and only, post lockout second round appearance in the playoffs. Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins have had nothing but success over the past decade and a half, with three cups and this year’s playoff miss just a blip on the radar of otherwise consistent success.
That’s where general manager Kyle Dubas finds himself after trading Toronto for Pittsburgh as his place of employment. He doesn’t have that hard of a job in front of him, just like any other general manager who had the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang in front of them. Dubas’s biggest question mark was how he would handle the Penguins goaltending. That question seems to answer itself when he re-signed Tristan Jarry to a 5 year contract.
The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed Tristan Jarry to a five year contract. That closes the door on any chance they acquire Connor Hellebuyck or John Gibson.
Early reviews of the new contract are mixed. Some are not happy with the price Dubas paid, with the Athletic (they gave the contract grade a “D”) calling the $5.375 million average annual value a “premium”. James O’Brien of Yahoo Sports shared the sentiment, yet questioned why Dubas didn’t swing for the fences on Connor Hellebuyck from the Winnipeg Jets.
O’Brien has a point that Hellebuyck, who’s a much better option than Jarry, has a year left at an affordable $6.167-million cap hit, but might have missed the mark by saying the Penguins “wouldn’t necessarily be required” to pay up for a huge contract extension. All signs point to Hellebuyck wanting a contract extension of both significant term and financial commitment to wherever he may be shipped off to. Whatever Hellebuyck’s new contract is, it’s sure to be more than Jarry’s overpay of $5.375 million. There’s also a plausible chance that Hellebuyck’s next contract outlasts Crosby, Malkin, and Letang all being together in Pittsburgh.
Singing Jarry long term does take the Penguins out of the running for Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson. Even if his agent and Frank Servalli are in a Twitter battle whether the news is true or not, Gibson seems to be closing the book on the Anaheim chapter of his career. Any potential trade more than certainly would have Anaheim retain some salary, making Gibson significantly cheaper than Hellebuyck, along with four years of contract control.
Gibson’s current deal carries a $6.4 million average annual value, which is on par with Hellebuyck’s expiring deal. Gibson is also Pittsburgh native and might have been more motivated to join his “hometown” team. While Hellebuyck might have been the better of the two, Gibson still stands to be an upgrade over Jarry at a similar cap hit. The deal given to Jarry all but shuts the door on that possibility.
Crosby, Malkin and Letang aren’t getting any younger. With a window that’s one, but closing fast, the Penguins need to pull all the stops to go for the trio’s fourth Stanley Cup. Jarry might not be the right piece in goal, but he’s the piece Dubas put in there and he isn’t leaving.