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Jarry hopes to make the most of his opportunity in Pittsburgh

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

The Penguins will start the 2019-20 season with Tristan Jarry as the backup to Matt Murray, as Casey DeSmith was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after clearing waivers on Tuesday.

"It's my first time ever making the team out of camp, so it's pretty exciting for me," Jarry said. "I'm pretty happy."

DeSmith, who signed a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $1.25 million in January, will help the Penguins stay under the salary cap by going down to the American Hockey League. 

"I think it's obvious the business of the game is part of the decision-making process," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's just the reality of the situation that we're in right now. We have three really, really good goalies. These are very, very difficult decisions. None of us take them lightly."

In the meantime, Jarry plans on making the most of the opportunity he has in front of him. 

The 24-year-old netminder has plenty of motivation, not only to stay in Pittsburgh for this season, but in the future as he's entering the last year of his two-year contract (which has an average annual value of $675,000).

"I think it helps me," Jarry said. "It helps with my development, it helps me improve, and I think it's a big motivation for me that Pittsburgh still wants me."

It's an opportunity that Jarry has been working toward after spending the majority of the 2018-19 season in WBS. He made a career-high 47 starts in the American Hockey League after seeing his first extended NHL action during the 2017-18 season, recording 14 wins - which led all rookie goaltenders - in 26 appearances.

"I think being able to take that, improve on that and then going down to Wilkes last year with the motivation to be back (was big)," Jarry said. "It's always hard to be in the NHL and then leave and then have to work your way back. So I think it was one of those things where I just had to keep developing and keep pushing myself."

Jarry doesn't anticipate that going from being the starter to the backup will be much of an adjustment.

"It's almost the same," Jarry said. "I think just making sure that you're mentally prepared, even if you're not playing, is a huge thing. You see how well Casey did last year and how well he was able to do it, so I think just keeping the same mindset."

Overall, Jarry - who was drafted by the Penguins in the second round (44th overall) in 2013 -feels that he's improved with each season since he turned professional in 2015-16. He's worked on bettering his practice habits, off-ice habits and preparation, and feels that will help him help the Penguins win hockey games.  

"It's every kid's dream to play in the NHL," Jarry said. "Obviously, you always want to be there and you always want to be a full-time player in the league, and I think to do that you have to keep improving."

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