We’re still a little ways out from the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft set to take place on July 21st where the league’s 32nd franchise, the Seattle Kraken, will fill out it’s inaugural roster with a player from each of the 31 other franchises.
This year’s expansion draft has already been discussed many times here at Pensburgh so you’re probably already familiar with the process and the act of ‘protecting’ players so they cannot be selected by the Kraken.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, most of those choices should be pretty straight forward with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, and Jake Guentzel being obvious and/or mandatory choices to be protected from expansion.
One position the Penguins are required to protect regardless of who else they select is a goaltender and they are only allowed to protect one. Until just recently, Tristan Jarry was the clear cut No. 1 goalie for the Penguins and was set to be the only logical selection for expansion draft protection. That may no longer be the case.
In speaking to 93.7 The Fan on Thursday, Rob Rossi of The Athletic isn’t so sure Jarry is the easy call to protect from expansion after his rocky playoff performance against the New York Islanders in the first round.
Even though this is all speculation on Rossi’s part, it’s still noteworthy given how everyone assumed Jarry was the next one for the Penguins in goal after the team shipped out two-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Murray last summer in favor of keeping Jarry.
Of course, whoever the Penguins decide to protect from the goaltender position may turn out to be a moot point anyways. As of right now, the overwhelming consensus as to whom the Kraken will take from the Penguins is one of unprotected forwards.
Those names include anyone from Teddy Blueger to Jared McCann depending on how the Penguins handle their protection list. Basically, whether they protect Jarry or DeSmith it won’t matter much since there are much more attractive players for the Kraken to choose from out of Pittsburgh.
Even so, the Penguins new management team of Brian Burke and Ron Hextall have an interesting decision to make here. While protecting one goalie over the other doesn’t likely mean they will lose the unprotected player it does send a message.
Picking DeSmith over Jarry runs the risk of further damaging the psyche of an already shaky goaltender, something Burke and Hextall surely don’t want to happen, especially if they do decide to ride with Jarry as the guy heading into next season.
Another message they could be sending by choosing DeSmith over Jarry is they are simply ready to move on from Jarry and plan to shop around this offseason for his replacement. It doesn’t necessarily make DeSmith the starter, but they are plenty comfortable with keeping him as the backup for the new guy.