The Penguins have a decision to make about their backup goaltender.
Casey DeSmith has been with the Penguins organization since being picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2015. While he spent his first few seasons in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, he made his NHL debut during the 2017-18 season. From then on, DeSmith would compete with fellow goaltender Tristan Jarry for the backup goaltender position until starting goaltender Matt Murray was traded to the Ottawa Senators in October 2020. Since then, DeSmith has served as Jarry’s backup, having compiled a record of 22-13-5. But is it possible that the time has come for the Penguins to reconsider their backup goaltender options?
While I’ve enjoyed watching DeSmith establish himself on the ice, I really think he could make a case in free agency as a first-string goaltender this offseason. While being paid $1.25M to play second string is nice, don’t get me wrong, I really feel he might earn himself a starting goaltender job, which is something he isn’t going to get with Tristan Jarry in the picture. In his NHL career, he is 43-28-11, while he went 11-6-5 this season. At the end of each season, he has always come out with at least a .912 save percentage. He has also recorded 9 shutouts in his career, 3 being from this season. DeSmith made his playoff debut at the beginning of this year’s playoffs, saving 48 out of the 51 shots he faced in game 1 of Round 1. His playoff tenure, however, was short-lived, as he exited the second overtime of game 1 with a foot injury, leaving third-string goaltender Louis Domingue to capture the win.
While the Penguins would end up losing the series to the New York Rangers in game 7, I truly think the Penguins would have made a serious playoff run, had DeSmith not been injured. It further would allow for DeSmith to continue to establish himself as the backup goaltender for future seasons.
If DeSmith is satisfied with where he is and what he is earning, then I say, yes, re-sign him, but if he wants a bigger payday and is looking to become a consistent starter, it may be time to let him walk.
The Penguins could bring one of their goalies up, like Alex D’Orio, or they could dip into the free agency pool and grab a veteran goaltender such as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso, or, and you know I’m going to say it, Minnesota Wild and former Penguin goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Wouldn’t that be a dream?