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A Penguin trade deadline feature and report on Tristan Jarry’s “chronic” hip issues?

Some possible trade deadline targets for Pittsburgh, but a troubling note about their goalie’s health status..

NHL: JAN 22 Penguins at Devils Photo by Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Frank Seravalli spotlighted the Penguins as part of his league-wide feature on all the NHL teams gearing up for the March 3rd NHL trade deadline.

Much of the focus centered around comments GM Ron Hextall made last week, including a reluctance to trade his 2023 first round pick. However, that question was posed more about if Hextall was willing to move his pick in order to clear a bad salary, a notion Hextall bristled at. Whether Hextall would move his pick for more of a hockey deal to improve the team was left uncertain, though there has been a stated goal to revamp the Pens’ prospect pool.

While Seravalli’s piece focused on trade targets and potential fits from around the league, it was a note about goalie Tristan Jarry that stood out.

The Penguins’ back end has been a MASH unit with the injuries suffered. But more concerning than that is the status of goaltender Tristan Jarry, who has missed 13 of the Pens’ last 15 games with upper and lower-body injuries. Those injuries are believed to be related to a chronic hip issue that has had a compounding effect on other injuries as he attempts to compensate. Jarry is also a pending unrestricted free agent. When healthy, Jarry has been outstanding with a .921 save percentage this season, but reliability and dependability are two of the biggest abilities when it comes to that position.

This piece of information about a potentially chronic hip issue for Jarry is something that might be new as far as printed information, and a very curious development. While the Pens have classified Jarry’s latest injury as an undisclosed upper-body, at a league-wide level from Jeff Marek on a podcast there was a hint raised and possibility given recently that Jarry’s recent woes have been linked to one another. Given that the Pens are intentionally vague on updates, this is likely not something that will be definitively refuted or answered.

Words aren’t going to tell the story anyways, by action either Jarry will return soon and stay on the ice or, if there’s validity to this report, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his issues continue to linger on. Considering Jarry has been out for most of the last seven weeks, perhaps that already has begun and it’s only now being realized.

It puts the Penguins in a bind for the immediate future, to some extent they might be stuck or locked in with Jarry and Casey DeSmith as their goalie combo this season no matter what. However, if there is doubt or uncertainty about Jarry’s health, that could add another level of intrigue or something to keep an eye on up until the trade deadline whether or not they can, should or will attempt to address such a concern.

As far as Seravalli’s trade targets went, a few names seemed ill-fitting or too ambitious (like Brock Boeser or Timo Meier — though maybe he shouldn’t be). One made a lot of sense though:

Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings: If there were ever a prototypical Hextall fit available at the deadline, it is Bertuzzi. His contract could be affordable if the Wings were willing to take back Kapanen and Bertuzzi would provide the scoring touch and snarl that could help a Pittsburgh team in the postseason.

Bertuzzi does feel like a player that could change the temperature of the room for the Pens with a high motor and some skill to offer. He’s only played 20 games so far this season due to injuries of his own, though he did score a career-high 30 goals and 62 points in 68 games last season and has been playing in games for the last month.

Bertuzzi carries a relatively high $4.75 million contract that expires after this season. That would take some navigating for the capped out Penguins, but through the magic of Detroit retaining salary and/or taking back contracts the math could work, as Seravalli noted. The Pens could also find ways to save marginal amounts too, in ways such as waiving recent scratch Danton Heinen, if it came to that and they were so inclined.

The Daily Faceoff feature focused on adding some scoring and a winger, whereas on paper it would seem like Pittsburgh would be best off focusing on fixing their lower lines from the center out. Given availability in the market, that might not be the best option and the way forward might be to hope boosting the wings could compensate for the non-Crosby and Malkin centers, although such a strategy would seemingly have flaws of its own.

However, for close observers of the Penguins, the notes about trade targets and potential pieces on the way out might pale in comparison to the lines about the bombshell news that includes Jarry and “chronic hip issue” in the same sentence. If that is a big deal or something they are dealing with or suspect may linger, the outlook about adding a forward takes on a whole different light.

Jarry has taken part in the past few practices, and was listed by coach Mike Sullivan as a possibility to play tomorrow against San Jose. If so, perhaps he has put what has hampered him lately behind him, but the problem with “chronic hip” issues is that they don’t tend to just go away. This could be a new twist, and potentially very concerning one for the Pens as they see just when Jarry returns and how he is able to manage going forward with the season.