A few weeks ago, Jim Rutherford sounded as if he'd be willing to try to sneak his No. 3 goaltender through waivers to get him to the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre.
Mostly because he wouldn't have another option.
Now, Rutherford seems optimistic that might not be necessary. That he might be able to trade a goaltender before the regular season arrives, rather than risk giving one up for nothing more than a waiver fee.
"That market has heated up," Rutherford said today. "I was surprised there wasn't more interest (in goaltenders) during the offseason, but there were a lot of free-agent goalies who filled chairs and there wasn't as much conversation. Since training camp started, that whole goalie market has really heated up."
Matt Murray is secure as the Penguins' go-to goalie, and Casey DeSmith appears to have the inside track on being his backup.
That would make Tristan Jarry the guy most likely to be moved, for several reasons. The most important are that he is younger and has a higher upside than DeSmith -- Jarry, touted as the Penguins' goalie of the future when he was drafted in the second round in 2013, is widely regarded as being a potential starter in the NHL -- which means he likely would bring a greater return in a trade.
Jarry, 24, is in the final year of his entry-level contract, and is scheduled to earn $675,000 in the NHL this season.
That's appreciably less than the $1.25 million DeSmith, 28, will be paid in the NHL -- his American Hockey League salary would be $1 million -- and the disparity could be an issue for a team with salary-cap issues, which is the case with the Penguins.
Rutherford, though, reiterated that he and his staff have a plan to become cap-compliant even if they don't make any deals designed to reduce their cap hit. (In any case, that plan presumably would not include carrying three goalies on the NHL roster.)
"There's ways we can make it work without making a trade," Rutherford said. "But certainly, there's a lot more conversations going on throughout the league. Not just with us. This is the time of year when there's more conversations. We'll see where it goes."
Regardless of how the goaltending situation plays out, Rutherford seems happy with how the first dozen days of this training camp have gone.
"The one thing that really stands out for me -- a couple of things -- is where we were a year ago with our center-ice position, and where we are today," he said. "We're so much stronger there. And then where we were a couple of years ago, as far as young defensemen coming along.
"It started with the (Marcus) Pettersson trade last year, and then we were able to get (Pierre-Olivier) Joseph in the trade with Arizona. He had an extremely good camp. We got (John) Marino in the Edmonton deal, and got him out of Harvard a year early. He's been very good at camp.
"And then a couple of guys who are out of here now, (Niclas) Almari in Wilkes-Barre and (Calen) Addison back to junior. Now, in a short period of time, we've been able to assemble a good group of young defensemen, which makes me feel really good for the future."
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