Pittsburgh Penguins’ Trade Deadline Target: Joonas Korpisalo

Courtesy of NHL.com

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The recent re-emergence of Casey DeSmith’s game might shift the Penguins’ trade deadline focus. Just a few short weeks ago, it was almost a formality that the Penguins would be shopping for a backup goaltender to Tristan Jarry.

Now? Maybe not so much.

However, General Manager Ron Hextall was a goaltender during his hockey career so he may seek a trade for another one, even if it’s just to sure up their depth heading to the playoffs.

It’s not too often bitter rivals trade in-division with each other, but if the Penguins do end up looking for a backup goaltender, a certain Columbus Blue Jacket certainly looks like they’ll be available.  This Blue Jacket is Joonas Korpisalo.  Korpisalo, 27, has played seven seasons in the NHL. He spent the last few seasons being a 1A in Columbus with Sergei Bobrobsky and current Blue Jackets starter Elvis Merzlikins.

Korpisalo is a career 75-65-21 with a 2.99 goals against average and .903 save percentage. Not that it really means anything, but those last two figures are the exact same numbers that Casey DeSmith is sporting for the season. Just a weird coincidence.

In all reality, Korpisalo has been given plenty of opportunity to take over in Columbus. He hasn’t really been a bad goaltender but he’s never put together the season that would ‘wow’ Columbus enough to make him their unequivocal starter.  Merzlikins was given a five-year contract extension that’ll kick in following this season which shows the writing on the wall for Korpisalo, an impending unrestricted free agent currently making $2.8 million per year.

The Blue Jackets also have a young goalie in Daniil Tarasov, who recently had season-ending surgery to end his 2021-22 season, but looks to be a promising backup for the 2022-23’ campaign.

This season hasn’t been one to write home about for the 27-year old Korpisalo as he’s gone 6-8-0 with a pedestrian .887 save percentage and a 3.82 goals against average. Those numbers rival DeSmith’s early season performance.

With analytics continuing to evolve in sports, one metric that often gets looked at is a goalie's goals saved above expected. Korpisalo’s -8.2 goals saved above expected ranks 45th out of 49 goalies who’ve played 18 or more games. That’s not very good.

Obviously, the Blue Jackets would be selling low on Korpisalo.

It’s very reasonable to think the Penguins could attain his services for a mid-to-late round draft pick or a low end, lottery ticket prospect. Columbus probably could’ve sold higher on Korpisalo at some point last year. Now, with only this season remaining on his deal and his poor play, recouping anything of value for the goaltender will be tough.

With DeSmith surging and Korpisalo’s season numbers being what they are, would there be a lot of sense to this trade? Maybe not a lot.

If the Penguins feel Korpisalo is better than DeSmith, than they could at least explore the move but one of the two would then have to clear waivers and report to Wilkes-Barre. I don’t see the Penguins taking that risk now with DeSmith’s play improving drastically.

Louis Domingue is also an in-house option and was a few minutes away from a shutout in his only action for the Penguins before getting hurt earlier this season.