The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins announced today that they have signed goaltender Dustin Tokarski to an American Hockey League contract for the 2019-20 season.
Tokarski, 29, is a two-time Calder Cup Champion, hoisting the AHL’s ultimate prize in 2012 with the Norfolk Admirals and again in 2019 with the Charlotte Checkers.
Playing in net for new Penguins head coach Mike Vellucci, Tokarski went undefeated (12-0-0-0) for Charlotte between the regular season and playoffs after being acquired in a midseason reassignment from the New York Rangers. The Watson, Saskatchewan native posted a 1.74 goals against average and .935 save percentage in his five postseason appearances on the Checkers’ run to the Cup. Tokarski finished the 2018-19 season with a 17-6-2 record, 2.58 goals against average, .912 save percentage and two shutouts.
Tokarski did wonders in Charlotte last year, and now that the coach Mike Velucci is now the head coach in Wilkes-Barre, it’s no surprise to see him brought over.
It’s an AHL only contract, so it doesn’t count against Pittsburgh’s 50 overall contracts, and also means Tokarski is not eligible to play in the NHL.
Tokarski has certainly made the rounds professionally:
The bigger questions about this move is the obvious point about goalie depth. Pittsburgh has Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith under contract for next year. Wilkes-Barre has Tokarski and also rookies Emil Larmi and Alex D’Orio (who will probably shuffle back and forth from ECHL Wheeling).
And, oh yeah, Tristan Jarry is under contract, though now waiver eligible and has a contract that pays him the same handsome rate ($675,000) whether he’s in the NHL or AHL. For that reason it would seem the choices would be to trade Jarry now, unless for some reason the team thought he could still win the NHL backup job.
That seems highly unlikely though. First of all, Jarry and DeSmith have competed within the organizations several times over the years, and DeSmith has always outperformed him. Second, the team was so pleased with DeSmith’s season they signed him to a three-year contract extension, and his salary is one-way as well, so it doesn’t make sense to waive him either.
Add it up and it may mean a change of scene coming for Jarry. But, considering he’s unestablished in the NHL and everyone knows the Pens are likely to waive him within a few months anyways, his trade value has to be at a near-low. So don’t expect too much, just really an opportunity for a player to move on and make a mark somewhere else.