WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Penguins system benefits as a whole from having six goalies at any given time that can play professional hockey with varying levels of success.
Ideally, this system works best when the Penguins have had three NHL caliber goaltenders. The past couple of seasons this has worked out great, with Matt Murray as the clear #1, Tristian Jarry and Casey DeSmith flip-flopping between the second and third spots. If one of the goalies was hurt, you had an NHL caliber netminder ready to jump in from the AHL and fill the spot. But, this situation was not sustainable and salary cap reasons forced the Pens to choose between Murray and 2020 All-Star Tristian Jarry. Murray and his $3.75 M contract was traded to Ottawa and Jarry signed for $3.5 M. Jarry played like a number one goaltender last season and at this point in 2020, there is little concern here at the number one spot.
Murray’s departure means everyone jumps up a spot. Casey DeSmith is now destined for a backup spot. Hopefully, this is the DeSmith from 2018-19 that had a .921 save percentage and not the DeSmith from January that lost his passport in his apartment.
The rest of the depth chart consists of Emil Larmi, Alex D’Orio, and Maxime Lagace. Larmi has one of the best personal Twitter feeds in hockey, but isn’t ready for AHL hockey. He played just nine games in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season (felt like he played 30) and has a .883 save percentage. D’Orio played in one game for W-B/S way back in 2018-19 and was shelled, plus, he has just the partial season of 19-20 in Wheeling. It makes sense that Larmi and D’Orio are clearly ECHL goalies in Wheeling when hockey resumes.
That leaves WBS with Legace, who has had solid stints with the Texas Stars, Chicago Wolves, and Providence Bruins under his belt, and an open spot in the AHL for their new signing, Shane Starrett.
The scouting report from our own Matthew Harding who covers the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder is that Starrett’s height gives him advantages in seeing pucks really well and makes him difficult to screen. I checked, he is 6’5” (humungous big). He is apparently known for strong positional play and a good ability to square up to the shooter. According to Harding, if there is a flaw in his game is that his reflexes are a bit slow, likely due to him being humongous big.
Starrett was an ECHL All-Star in 2018 and posted great numbers in Bakersfield in 2018-19, with a save percentage of .918, 27 wins, and four shutouts on his way to being named to the AHL’s All-Rookie team. His numbers slumped a bit in 2019-20, but Bakersfield was rough on defense and Starrett was dealing with lower body muscular injuries/issues.
Starrett has shown that he is elite in the ECHL and it seems like he could serve as a capable backup if not challenge Legace for the starting position in WBS for the 2021? season.
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