Where does Jarry fit in?

Dave Molinari 8 years ago

Interesting, isn’t it, that just days after Ray Shero lost his job as general manager of the Penguins – in part, upper management said, because of sub-par drafts during his tenure – that Derrick Pouliot was honored as the top defenseman in major-junior hockey and goalie Tristan Jarry helped Edmonton win the Memorial Cup junior championship?

Pouliot, claimed with the No. 8 pick in the 2012 draft, is considered the top prospect in the organization and is widely regarded as a can’t-miss candidate to play in the NHL, although he currently is recovering from shoulder surgery that could force him to sit out part of the 2014-15 season.

Shero traded up in the second round last year to land Jarry, who went 3-1-1, with a .910 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against average during the Oil Kings’ surge to the Memorial Cup.

Jarry struggled early in the season, but found a groove as it progressed and was a major force in the Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup tournaments. Along the way, he was praised for his poise and ability to elevate his game in high-stakes situations.

Jarry has good size (the Penguins list him at 6 feet 1, 183 pounds) and, scouts say, possesses a strong glove and the ability to use his stick effectively.

When they drafted him, the Penguins projected Jarry as a potential starter in the NHL someday, and it’s unlikely that anything that happened during the 2013-14 season changed that.

Of course, where Jarry fits into the Penguins’ long-term plans will be up to the GM who replaces Shero, but even in s best-case scenario, it likely will be several years before he is ready to secure steady work in the NHL.

The Penguins’ organizational depth in goal was suspect a few years ago, but with Jeff Zatkoff, Eric Hartzell and Matt Murray in the pipeline, that crisis seems to have passed.

Jarry might have the most long-term potential of any of them, however, and it’s easy to see that how the next GM views him might have an impact on Marc-Andre Fleury’s future.

Fleury has a year remaining on his contract and, if it is determined that he still is the best long-term option for the franchise, he likely will get a new deal before his current one expires.

If, however, Shero’s successor concludes that Jarry – or any other of the Penguins’ goaltending prospects – is close to being a go-to guy at this level, Fleury might end up on the trading block, or simply be allowed to walk as a free agent next summer, with a veteran being brought in to bridge the time between now and when one of the young goalies would be ready to assume Fleury’s role.