The penguins must find goalkeeper number 2

Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of personal issues to address over the next few months.

Securing the No. 2 goalkeeper is one of them, even if it’s not among the most pressing issues facing the GM. Ron Hextal and his staff.

Not when penguins hope to keep the likes of Yevgeny Malkin, Chris Letang, and Ricard Raquelamong other things.

Casey Desmith, incumbent as a supporter for Tristan Garry, is presumably a candidate to remain in the role, but he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Although DeSmith, who was on a three-year contract with a maximum salary of $1.25 million, struggled through the first part of 2021-22, he rebounded during the second half of the season.

He finished 11-6-5, 2.79 goals to average and 0.914 saves.

With Gary sidelined due to a foot injury. DeSmith became the Penguins’ goalkeeper in the closing weeks of the regular season, and landed to fill that role during the opening round of the playoffs series against the New York Rangers.

But after stopping 48 of 51 shots during the first game, DeSmith suddenly skated off the bench during the second overtime, then left the ice with a core muscle injury that had to be surgically repaired a few days later.

Penguins hasn’t announced a time frame for his recovery, but even if he’s expected to be ready to start boot camp, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back on the payroll by fall.

In fact, the only certainty at this point is that the penguins aren’t likely to invest much space in a backup, if only because they have so many other free agents to re-sign or replace.

If the Pittsburgh Penguins are convinced that DeSmith’s health is not a long-term issue and that his contract requirements are reasonable, he appears to be a serious contender for job No.

But if management decides to walk away from him, here are some of the unrestricted agents who might get a look to replace DeSmith (with their 2021-22 squad and hitting the cap in parentheses). Suffice to say, most goalkeepers likely won’t win the Vezina Cup anytime soon:

*** Louis Doming (Penguins, $750,000) – He stopped DeSmith late in the first game and would have become a local legend if he had passed the Penguins Rangers. However, he faltered as the series progressed, giving up a particularly scandalous goal in Game 6, reducing him from a popular hero to a footnote. He’s a good guy to be number three in your organization, but making him a full-time backup can be a lot.

*** Keith Kinkade (Rangers, $825,000) – He’s only made one game for New York this season, rejecting 29 from 31 shots in a 3-2 win in Arizona on Dec. 15. However, he had several strong seasons with weak teams in New Jersey before joining Rangers.

*** Maxime Lagace (Tampa Bay, $750,000) – Remember him? He spent most of the 2020-21 season with the Penguins’ farm team in Wilkes-Barre, but had one NHL game. Lagace has split between two appearances with Lightning this season, although his personal stats (6.11, .828) haven’t been quite as sparkling.

*** David Ritich (Nashville, $1.25 million) — Ritich did little to increase his value during his only playoff appearance, conceding five goals on 13 shots. And while his regular season record (6-3-4) was good, his save percentage (886) was lower than the 88 other goalkeepers who played in the NHL in 2021-22.

*** Malcolm Suban (Buffalo, $950,000) – He never kept the promise he pushed Boston to claim in the first round of the 2012 Draft at the PPG Paints Arena and missed the last 47 games of the regular season due to not being named. An upper body hit, but he’s big (6-2, 215 pounds) and athletic and at least has the potential to up his game for seasons to come.

*** Scott Wedgwood (Dallas, $825,000) – He was 13-15-1 during the season split between the stars and Arizona, and has struggled with inconsistency throughout his career. He can steal some games, and everything but give away some others, which is part of the reason why he’s considered a day-to-day player.

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