There is no doubt that teams around the National Hockey League are going to be adversely affected by the unplanned shutdown of the 2019 - 2020 NHL regular season, but no teams are going to suffer more than those that were already delicately balancing their rosters against the NHL's hard salary cap. There are a few teams that will have some very hard choices to make when the offseason eventually arrives and perhaps at the very top of that list are the Pittsburgh Penguins and their general manager Jim Rutherford.
Rutherford was already doing one of those aforementioned delicate balancing acts against the salary cap and with the season being cut short the salary cap is now expected to come down next season instead of going up. This means that the Penguins, and other NHL organizations in their current predicament, will not receive the wiggle room they would normally have expected at the end of the season, but will instead have to slash their respective budgets just to become compliant with the cap. As a result one of the hottest topics among Penguins fans during the stoppage has been the future of goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. Murray has 2 Stanley Cup titles under his belt already and is set for a significant raise during the offseason, but there is now serious doubt about whether or not that raise will come from the team he won those 2 Cups for.
In a recent article for The Athletic Pittsburgh Penguins insider Josh Yohe, who has personally spoken to Rutherford about this topic several times in recent months, was asked about the goaltending situation in Pittsburgh. Although Yohe would not come right out and say that Murray was done as a Penguin, he certainly indicated that it was his belief that the Penguins would move in that direction.
My sense is that it’s almost certain one of the Penguins’ goaltenders will be traded whenever the next off-season arrives. Let’s call it November. My hunch is that Matt Murray will be the one to go. He’s going to command a lot more money, and the salary cap is about to drop, maybe significantly. That’s a problem. Plus, Jarry has proven himself to be a capable answer, albeit in a small window of time.
Now to be fair here it is true that Rutherford could simply cut salary elsewhere on his roster and retain both Murray and Jarry moving forward. That being said though Yohe also addressed this issue during his recent mail bag and once again his belief is that Murray will be the odd man out in Pittsburgh.
Again from Yohe:
They could keep both goalies, yes. But to do so, they’d probably have to trade Kris Letang or a couple of other important players. I think that’s unlikely.
If it does happen it will be wild to see how Murray performs on an new NHL team.