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Tristan Jarry’s “tough” year ends with more questions than answers

It was supposed to be a “prove it” year for the Penguins’ goalie to earn a big contract. It did not go exactly as hoped.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images

The good news for Tristan Jarry: for the first time in three seasons, he was healthy enough to play in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ final regular season game after missing time at the conclusions of both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

The bad news for Tristan Jarry: he was banged up as hell at the end of the season.

It was a tough season for Jarry. He used that word four times describing it.

“I was playing through a lot [of injuries],” Jarry said after the game. “So it was tough. Tough to get practices in. Tough to get consistent game play in. It was just a tough season all together for me.”

The Penguins’ goalie said he will not have surgery, describing his issues as more of something to gut out or allow time to heal.

“What I was dealing with wasn’t going to be fixed. It was either something I decided to play through, or I don’t play at all. I couldn’t just watch. It’s not me. It’s tough watching. Every day I wanted to be out there, no matter what.”

Jarry was able to play a lot down the stretch, starting 20 of the team’s final 27 games of the year. However, he also looked visibly and obviously slow and almost hobbled at times, when it came to pushing back up into his stance in a somewhat clunky looking way. Jarry’s performance suffered too, with only a .890 save% in this stretch.

Now the big question is: what’s next?

This season was supposed to be a “prove it” year for Jarry, who now is an impending free agent.

Now that we’re at the finish line of the campaign, it’s worth starting to look at what exactly he proved in this pivotal year,

It was all systems go at the beginning of the season, Jarry compiled a 15-5-4 record and a .917% save percentage up through the Winter Classic, before his body and season started to slowly crumble. Then, just like the last two seasons, by the end of the regular season, Jarry was limping towards the finish line.

This season was supposed to be Jarry’s chance to stabilize his position as the Pens’ starting goalie, and lock the crease down for years to come with a big contract extension if he earned it through his play and eliminated doubts with a strong year. While there definitely were factors outside of his control involved in the overall outcome of the season, unfortunately for Jarry things did not go in that stabilizing direction.

In fact, the situation is murkier at the moment than it has been for the Penguins in quite some time as far as what they will do next, and who will even be calling those shots.

The Penguins have a lot to sort out before they even get to what direction they want to go with about Jarry or the position in general. Bigger fish to fry, as they say. However, eventually they will have to figure out a difficult but crucial situation as far at the future direction in net. In what has become a trend, the team finds themselves with more questions and few clear answers at the goalie position.

Tristan Jarry will heal up and be ready to play somewhere next season, but it remains to be seen if that will be Pittsburgh. Injuries and sour endings have marred his otherwise solid performances - and unfortunately that “tough” familiar conclusion was the key theme of 2022-23 as well.