The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have signed goaltender Dustin Tokarski to an AHL contract for the 2019-20 season, the team announced Monday morning.
Tokarski, who turns 30 this summer, most recently played for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL under new Wilkes-Barre head coach Mike Vellucci. Tokarski was loaned from the Rangers to the Checkers in February and went 7-0 to finish the regular season, posting a 1.14 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage.
Tokarski played in five postseason games for the Checkers last season, recording a 5-0 record, and a 1.74 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage as the Checkers went on to win the Calder Cup. It was Tokarski's second Calder Cup win, after previously winning with the Norfolk Admirals in 2012.
Before being loaned to the Checkers, Tokarski played for the Rangers' AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack, where he recorded a 10-6-2 record, a 3.10 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. He played for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2017-18, going 20-8-7 in the regular season with a 2.65 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
In Tokarski's 10-year AHL career, he's played 343 games and recorded a career goals-against average of 2.52 and a .911 save percentage. He ranks 18th in AHL history in wins (183) and 12th in shutouts (26). He's played in 34 NHL games in his career with the Lightning, Canadiens, and Ducks, with a career .904 save percentage and 2.84 goals-against average. He last appeared in an NHL game in 2016-17 with the Ducks.
Also on Monday, the Nailers announced the re-signing of goaltender Jordan Ruby.
Ruby, 28, joined the Nailers last season on an ECHL-deal in December while John Muse was recalled to Wilkes-Barre and Matt O’Connor was injured. Once Muse and O’Connor returned, Ruby was playing too well to just send him back to the SPHL, so Ruby and O’Connor split the backup job until sharing the net after Muse went back to Wilkes-Barre.
Ruby appeared in 27 total games for the Nailers and recorded a 2.87 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, leading the team in both categories.
I have a full feature on Ruby here.
"Jordan was a key factor in us competing for a playoff spot right up until the end," said Nailers coach Mike Bavis. "His athleticism and competitiveness flat out won us games, and we are looking forward to putting him in that role again this coming season."
When I spoke to Ruby last season, he said that he enjoyed Wheeling as a city because it was a good place for he and his wife to raise their two children. That was a factor in his decision to re-sign.
"The people of Wheeling made my family and me feel right at home, and we really enjoyed that, so Wheeling is the best place for us to be," Ruby said in a team release. "I made some good first impressions, then started to gel more with the guys, as well as Mike Bavis. I wasn't ready for the year to be done, so I am ready to get back there and get the ball rolling again."
Tokarski and Ruby join Tristan Jarry, Alex D'Orio and Emil Larmi as minor-league goaltenders under contract with either Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, or Wheeling for next season.
Teams typically prefer not to have two young goaltenders like D'Orio and Larmi play as a tandem in the AHL. D'Orio is 20 years old and has never played a professional season, and Larmi is 22 and has never played in North America. Neither D'Orio nor Larmi was acquired to play as a backup, and both need to be playing regularly in their first pro seasons in North America.
The ideal situation is to have one of Larmi or D'Orio start in Wheeling along with a veteran backup, and the other share the net in Wilkes-Barre with another veteran. Tokarski will be that veteran for Wilkes-Barre, and Ruby will be that veteran for Wheeling.
That leaves nowhere for Jarry. The Tokarski signing makes it appear that the Penguins are preparing to move Jarry via a trade or lose him to waivers.
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