Casey DeSmith has been nominated as the Penguins representative for the Masterton trophy. Here are the 31 nominees.
Nice to see several former Penguins in the mix (Phil Kessel, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury and of course, who could forget Patrick Marleau).
By the fall of 2019, DeSmith appeared to graduate to the NHL. He had spent 2018-19 as the backup goalie for Pittsburgh. He signed a very assuring three-year deal worth $1.25 million per year, as it looked like he and the Pens were solidifying the future of their backup job.
But then in fall 2019, Tristan Jarry played well in training camp and the Pens didn’t want to waive the former top prospect and risk losing him for nothing. Instead, they waived DeSmith. Every team had the chance to pick him up, every team passed on him.
The circumstance was a difficult one for him personally, too. As the story told by the Post-Gazette back in 2019:
“I was pissed, a little bit frustrated obviously. But it’s part of the job and they had reasons behind it,” DeSmith said Thursday. “It’s frustrating for me as a guy who came up through the minors and had a tough road to get where I was and then to lose [a competition] not really feeling like I actually lost it.”
And he is coping with being away from his wife, Ellie, whom he married in July. They recently purchased a house in the Pittsburgh area and got a new cat. Ellie’s job allows her to come out to Wilkes-Barre only one week per month.
“It’s the worst part. By far. If it was just me and I ended up here, it would have hurt less, I guess. I have to miss her every day,” he said. “So, yeah, new wife, new house, new cat, and I don’t get to enjoy any of it. I’m stuck in a hotel.”
DeSmith ended up staying with the AHL Penguins until the coronavirus shutdown ended that season in March 2020. He was a deep reserve for Pittsburgh, until they traded Matt Murray this summer.
That opened the door for Jarry and DeSmith to be the two goalies in Pittsburgh, and DeSmith responded with another solid season in 2020-21, despite not getting the opportunity to play in the NHL at all the prior season.
Getting nominated is a nice salute to a guy who got put in a tough and unfortunate situation last year.