Abrupt Change after Years Where a Wave of Defenseman Engulfed the Organizational Chart, Goalies Have Replaced Them as the Team's No. 1

By Molinari, Dave | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), December 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

Abrupt Change after Years Where a Wave of Defenseman Engulfed the Organizational Chart, Goalies Have Replaced Them as the Team's No. 1


Molinari, Dave, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


A few years ago, the Penguins' talent pipeline was all but clogged with promising young defensemen.

Olli Maatta. Derrick Pouliot. Simon Despres. Joe Morrow. Scott Harrington. Philip Samuelsson.

It seemed a shame that none of them could play goal, for there was precious little talent in that area of the organizational depth chart.

That all has changed, however. Maatta is a fixture in the NHL and Pouliot still projects as an impact player, but Despres, Morrow, Harrington and Samuelsson have been traded, and there are no other defensive prospects of real note in the Penguins' system.

Conversely, they have accumulated a bounty of good young goalies.

So many that associate general manager Jason Botterill calls goaltending "our biggest strength," on an organizational basis.

He also volunteered that "we'd like to have a few more defensemen coming through our organization," underscoring how a club's strengths and weaknesses can vary from year to year.

"It's the cycle of things," Botterill said. "You can't overreact to anything because things can change very quickly."

Matt Murray, who earned his first NHL victory when the Penguins beat Columbus, 5-2, Monday, is their top goaltending prospect.

He was named the AHL's top goaltender in 2014-15 and was 12-4, with a 1.84 goals-against average and .938 save percentage, in 17 games with the Baby Penguins before being recalled when Marc-Andre Fleury was diagnosed with a concussion a week ago.

"What Matt Murray has accomplished over the last year-and-a-half in the American Hockey League has just been outstanding," Botterill said.

The Penguins acquired Murray in Round 3 of the 2012 draft and the rights to Sean Maguire, in his third year at Boston University, one round later, then traded up to claim Tristan Jarry in the second a year later.

Those are looking like shrewd investments.

Jarry, Murray's backup in Wilkes-Barre this season, is 8-1, with a 1. …

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