The Penguins traded up to take Tristan Jarry
in the second round (44th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, after his second season backing up then-Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit with the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings.
The organization sees Jarry as a potential starting goalie here in Pittsburgh someday, but they knew he would have to prove himself as the starting goalie in Edmonton first.
“(Jarry) didn’t get a lot of ice time this year because he was playing behind a Calgary draft pick in Edmonton, but he will be the starter next year,” Penguins co-director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton said at the time. “We’d like to see him play at least 45-50 games as the starter in Edmonton. We’ll see how he’s able to handle the full-time workload, but we have every expectation he’ll be just fine.”
Jarry went on to exceed all of those expectations, as he couldn’t have scripted his first season as Edmonton’s No. 1 netminder any better if he tried.
After Jarry, 19, finished the regular season by leading all Western Hockey League goaltenders in wins (44), goals-against average (2.24) and shutouts (t-8), he and the Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup – the trophy that’s awarded annually to the Canadian Hockey League champion.
“Now it’s finally kind of sunk in,” Jarry said. “It’s very exciting. It’s one of the hardest trophies to win in hockey. I’m very proud of our team and what we accomplished this year.”
While his season may have ended perfectly, it certainly didn’t start that way as making the transition from backup to starter was definitely an adjustment for Jarry. Not just on the ice, but off the ice as well.
“You get into a little bit of a routine, going to bed early and eating well with your billets,” Jarry said. “I think that was one of the biggest things. It’s not every night you can go out for pizza with the guys. That’s one thing I learned, is sometimes you’ve just got to stay home and go to bed early. I think that helped me a lot.”
The transition manifested itself physically on Jarry as well, as he estimates that he added close to 20 pounds of muscle with his increased workload, changed routine and, as the British Columbia native joked, all the pasta and salad he ate before games.
“Getting a little bit bigger and stronger is the main key for me, and what I’m going to try and bring into main camp,” said Jarry, who's listed as being 6-foot-1, 183 pounds.
Jarry finished the postseason with an impressive 16-4-1 record, .925 save percentage and a 2.19 goals-against average. But numbers aren’t his biggest takeaway from that run. It’s more about the intangibles for him.
In order to advance to the Memorial Cup, the Oil Kings had to go through the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks, then coached by now-Penguins head coach Mike Johnston. With that being Portland’s fourth-straight appearance in the league finals, they were certainly a formidable opponent. And while the series went to seven games, Jarry was able to get the clinching win on the road to claim the league title and give his team a shot at winning it all.
“That was my first playoffs as a starter and my first playoffs, really, to begin with,” Jarry said. “So I think that was great for me. I had (my) ups and downs, starting with Portland. I didn’t think I was at the top of my game, where I wanted it to be. It was just one of those things where the guys were behind you 100 percent and you have to know that. I thought one of the best things for me was having the guys there with me to pick me up when I was down.
“Playing Portland, those were probably some of the toughest games I’d ever been in before. You have a couple here and there in the season, but nothing like that in the playoffs where every night, you have to be on and every night, you have to make sure you’re playing your best because you’re playing one of the best teams in the country.”
Jarry is looking forward to building off his phenomenal year and using the confidence he’s gained from what he was able to do in his first season as the Oil Kings' No. 1 goalie next year in Edmonton. And hopefully, someday in Pittsburgh.
“Obviously I had that tremendous season,” he said. “A lot of ups and downs came with it and I think that just helped me grow as a player and helped me be the person I am today. It really taught me a lot. It taught me how to win, how to lose and I think that’s one of the biggest things I took from this year and I’ll take into next year.”