Penguins place Casey DeSmith on waivers
The Pittsburgh Penguins have placed goaltender Casey DeSmith on waivers.
DeSmith, who served as the primary backup to Matt Murray last season, is in the first year of a three-year contract with a salary cap hit of $1.25 million which was signed in January. In 2018-19, DeSmith appeared in a career-high 36 games and had a 15-11-5 record, 2.75 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and three shutouts.
The waiving of DeSmith clears the way for Tristan Jarry to assume the backup role. A second-round draft pick in 2013, Jarry has primarily spent the past four seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Last season, he appeared in two NHL games and posted an 0-1-1 record with a 3.50 GAA and .887 save percentage. Jarry, 24, is in the final year of a two-year contract with a salary cap hit of $675,000 and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent next offseason.
The Penguins entered training camp having declared an open competition for the backup position. Jarry emerged victorious due primarily to the team’s salary cap concerns.
“The performance (of DeSmith) was good,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. ”Casey had a good camp. I think both goalies, Tristan and Casey, they both performed very well. That part of it was very close. But dealing with the salary cap, that was a factor. We do like Tristan a lot. He’s developed. His development has been very good and he’s put himself in position to be a good NHL goalie. It was a tough decision without question.”
By his own admission, Jarry’s consistency has been his biggest shortcoming during his professional existence. He, along with management, suggested that trait improved considerably last season. He appeared in a career-high 47 games and posted a 23-23-3 record for a mediocre Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team along with a 2.66 GAA, .915 save percentage and one shutout.
“Consistency is always something a young player, especially a young goalie, has to deal with,” Rutherford said. “When we look at where he was two, three years ago to where he got to last year to where we feel he is now, we feel the consistency will be much better.”
In 2013, the Penguins, under former general manager Ray Shero, dealt away forward Tyler Kennedy, a member of the 2009 Stanley Cup team, to the San Jose Sharks for the 50th overall pick in that year’s draft. That asset was then traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the No. 44 pick, which was used to select Jarry.
As a high second-round draft pick, Jarry always had considerable potential. For the first time in his career, he will get an opportunity to realize it at the start of an NHL season.
“He has a strong pedigree. He was a second-round pick,” Rutherford said. “He was outstanding in the Memorial Cup (with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2014). His team won the (CHL) championship. He had a good career. He was drafted here, I’m sure, with the projection of being one of the two goalies, if not a No. 1 goalie, at some point.”
DeSmith, a favorite of goaltending coach Mike Buckley, will remain on waivers until noon on Tuesday. If no team claims him, the Penguins could assign DeSmith to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
If DeSmith is claimed, that would relieve the Penguins of his salary and get them under the NHL’s salary cap upper limit of $81.5 million. CapFriendly has projected the Penguins as being $331,625 above that limit.
In the event DeSmith goes unclaimed and is assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he would still be paid his full salary but the Penguins would be relieved of $1.075 million of his salary cap hit.
Rust likely headed to long-term injured reserve
The Penguins are expected to place forward Bryan Rust on long-term injured reserve. Rust was injured during a 3-2 preseason shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday when he blocked a shot with his left arm.
In addition to Rust, the Penguins will likely place defenseman Zach Trotman on long-term injured reserve due to a sport hernia.
The Penguins currently have 26 players on their roster, including DeSmith. The NHL’s limit for active players on a roster is 23. A potential departure or demotion for DeSmith along with Rust and defenseman Trotman potentially being placed on long-term injured reserve would get the Penguins within that limit.
All teams must have their rosters submitted to the NHL by Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Ex-Penguins on waivers
Former Penguins forwards Daniel Sprong (Anaheim Ducks), Jayson Megna (Colorado Avalanche), Scott Wilson (Buffalo Sabres) and Garrett Wilson (Toronto Maple Leafs) were also placed on waivers on Monday.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .