Report: Penguins Goaltending Situation Could Have Surprising Outcome

There's been plenty of speculation about the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending situation, most notably what could happen with presumptive No. 1 man Tristan Jarry. Of course, the veteran lost his top-dog status down the stretch this season as he was usurped by Alex Nedeljkovic. 

And while many Penguins fans would like to see Nedeljkovic back between the pipes next season and Jarry gone, reading the tea leaves from GM Kyle Dubas would seem to indicate that, in fact, Nedeljkovic is likely to be the odd man out. 

There are at least three good reasons why the 28-year-old former Detroit Red Wings backstop will have to find a new team to call home in 2024-25:

1) 22-year-old goaltending prospect Joel Blomqvist appears to be ready to take the next step (.921 save percentage in 45 games at the AHL this season), and the Penguins seem to be ready to give him that shot. Per Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now, "the Penguins are giving Blomqvist the first right of refusal for next year. If he’s ready, he’s in." 

Witness Dubas' thoughts on the matter:

"As I said to (Nedeljkovic) yesterday, we have a situation where we have a young goaltender that’s also pushing, Joel Blomqvist,” Dubas said. “We’re going to use this next stretch of weeks (with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' playoff run) … How does Joel play? Can he assert himself at that level? And then we’ll have more information on how we want to go ahead with our goaltending.”

2) Nedeljkovic will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. As Kingerski points out, "the team would have no incentives to offer Nedeljkovic a multi-year deal because (Blomqvist) will be ready sooner rather than later."

3) Jarry's contract would be extremely difficult to move, if the Pens were looking to trade him in order to try to keep (and re-sign) Nedeljkovic. Jarry just finished the first season of a new 5-year deal that comes with a costly $5.37 million cap hit. 

In summary, it appears that Nedeljkovic will not be offered the kind of deal that he'll be looking for in free agency, and—barring a catastrophe between the pipes in the AHL this spring—Pittsburgh will instead be going with a Tristan Jarry/Joel Blomqvist pairing in the crease.  

 Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports