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2022-23 Season in Review: Casey DeSmith

Casey DeSmith was asked to shoulder more of a starter’s load in 2022-23, and it showed.

NHL: APR 02 Flyers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


Player: Casey DeSmith
Born: Aug. 13, 1991
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 181 pounds
Hometown: Rochester, New Hampshire, U.S.
Shoots: Left
Draft: Undrafted
2022-23 Statistics: 38 games played; 15 wins, 16 losses, 4 overtime/shootout losses; 3.17 goals against average; .905 save percentage
Contract Status: Entering the second year of a two-year contract; cap hit of $1.8 million in 2023-24
Fun fact: DeSmith holds the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins record for most saves in a playoff game (59 - April 23, 2016)
Hidden Stat: Compiled a .974 shorthanded save percentage and allowed just one shorthanded goal

Monthly Splits

Casey DeSmith - Monthly Splits
Yahoo! Sports

DeSmith came out of the gate with a goose egg in October. There are no wins in three starts in the season’s opening month, which isn’t a great look. Maybe it was something akin to foreshadowing heading into the rest of the season.

The month of January (which we will explore more in-depth below) was, simply put, not kind to the veteran netminder. Far and away the worst goals-against average and save percentage when compared to the rest of his season. That period also coincides with another crucial injury to his fellow goalie.

He came out of January playing what was his best stretch of hockey all season, posting a 4-2-0 record with a 2.96 GAA and .915 save percentage.

Story of the Season

General manager Ron Hextall decided to pair Tristan Jarry up with Casey DeSmith once again following the 2021-22 season, giving DeSmith a new, two-year deal last summer.

His first win would come on Nov. 9, 2023, beating the Washington Capitals 4-1. DeSmith then made 28 saves during a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 11.

Let’s get into the reason you’re all here: The roasting session that came as DeSmith entered the new year. Tristan Jarry departed the Winter Classic with a lower-body injury that would nag him for the remainder of the season. DeSmith actually stopped 19 of 21 shots in relief during the Winter Classic.

Enter starting goaltender Casey DeSmith.

As mentioned above, the New Hampshire native struggled mightily when asked to shoulder the load. In small spurts, DeSmith is inoffensive; he’s exactly what you would expect out of any other backup goalie.

From Dec. 18, 2022, to Jan. 18, 2023, DeSmith was awarded just two wins (a 4-1 win against the openly tanking Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 8, 2023, and a 4-3 overtime win against the equally-bad Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 16, where he earned the win with a .897 save percentage).

Jarry would be activated off long-term injured reserve on Jan. 20 but would aggravate his ailment just four days later. Jarry wouldn’t play again until Feb. 20.

DeSmith regained some confidence throughout February, posting the best numbers of his season.

Through March and April, it was Jarry who would be pulled multiple times, forcing DeSmith into mop-up duty in less-than-favorable situations.

Goaltending, along with a myriad of other issues that were compounded on top of one another, was a big reason why the Penguins hit the golf courses in mid-April instead of the ice rinks.

Regular season 5v5 advanced stats

Data via Natural Stat Trick.

Save Percentage: 0.914
Goals Against Average: 2.73
Goals Saved Above Average: -2.26
Shots Against: 881
Saves: 805
Goals Against: 76
Expected Goals Against: 81.51
High Danger Shots Against: 281
High Danger Saves: 237
High Danger Goals Against: 44
High Danger Save Percentage: 0.843
Average Shot Distance: 33.69
Average Goal Distance: 19.08

Goals saved above expected is going to be the first stat that pops out and makes you go, ‘yuck.’ Yet, DeSmith’s save percentage and goals against average, at least according to these models, paint a decent picture.

DeSmith owned a better high-danger save percentage (.843) than his starting counterpart Jarry (.811).

Charts n’at

No real surprise that, when analyzing unlocked shots, the majority of your dangerous chances are coming from the slot, up close, and in the goalie’s kitchen. That’s how goals are scored in today’s NHL.

The 1B role DeSmith is categorized into here is an apt descriptor of his talents. The biggest red flag, literally, is the shoddy rebound control.

However, JFresh’s models paint, perhaps, a surprising picture of consistency in line with what DeSmith has been during his NHL career: A bang-average, low-danger goalie.


Bottom Line

Casey DeSmith is best served as a backup goaltender. Now, you didn’t need to read this part to figure that out. When asked to play above his means, he’s either easily exposed by the opposition, overworked, or both.

He is an established winner at the NHL level and has reached his ceiling. There were certainly times when I yelled at my TV last season, telling the professional athlete to ‘make a save,’ but DeSmith probably falls in line with a majority of backups across the league.

A Matt Murray—Marc-Andre Fleury tandem is the exception, not the norm, unfortunately.

Ideal 2023-24

After seeing his highs and lows last season, it would be easy to want to cut bait and get a cheaper backup in Pittsburgh. However, according to Spotrac, out of 49 analyzed goaltenders, DeSmith’s $1.8 million cap hit places him in a tie at 37 (Eric Comrie) for one of the cheaper goalie cap hits across the league.

Kyle Dubas holds no loyalty to Casey DeSmith. One could argue that the backup goalie position does not need to be addressed heading into 2023-24. If DeSmith can experience some positive regression, he could play out the final year of his deal in Pittsburgh to the tune of what the fanbase is accustomed to.

On the flip side, given Dubas’ aggressive nature and desire to retool the roster, if the right move came along and DeSmith’s contract needed offloading to make it work, I would not be opposed to having another, cheaper backup in the net.


How would you grade Casey DeSmith’s 2022-23 season?

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  • 0%
    (3 votes)
  • 18%
    (64 votes)
  • 59%
    (208 votes)
  • 18%
    (66 votes)
  • 3%
    (11 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now