Reliable relief goalie Dustin Tokarski joins the Pens organization to provide extra stability in net.
“Tokarski has proven himself a determined goaltender throughout all levels of the sport. He has a championship pedigree and the humility to play third-string and minor-league roles without complaint.”
Dustin Tokarski is a Humboldt, Saskatchewan native and nine-year NHL veteran. Born on September 16, 1989, he grew up playing hockey in nearby in the tiny town of Watson, SK.
Tokarski established a record of success at a young age winning Canada’s midget hockey championship the Telus Cup in 2006. He made the leap to junior hockey thereafter with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He quickly showed himself to be a standout performer at that level as well after he led his team to win the WHL Championship and the CHL Memorial Cup in 2008. Tokarksi was named the playoff MVP for his efforts. From his club success, he was selected to represent Canada in the World Junior Championships, winning a gold medal in 2009.
On completing his junior career, Tokarski was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fifth round (122nd overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He spent several years playing in the Lightning's minor league system, honing his craft as a goaltender. During that time he won another title when he captured the AHL’s Calder Cup championship with the Norfolk Admiral.
Tokarski made his NHL debut with the Lightning in 2010, playing in two games as a relief goalie during the regular season. He continued developing in the minors while getting a handful of NHL games over the next two seasons. In 2013, Tokarski was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, the team he'd get his NHL breakthrough from. He played in several games for the Canadiens over the next few seasons, including a memorable run in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, where he played a key role in helping the Canadiens reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tokarski continued to play for the Canadiens for several seasons eventually winning the role of star goalie Carey Price’s understudy. In 2017, he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks after the Canadiens found themselves with a surplus of goalies. He spent the next few seasons playing in the Ducks', Flyers’, and Rangers’ minor league systems during which he earned another AHL Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers in 2019. Following his second professional championship Tokarski was rewarded with a two-year contract from the Buffalo Sabres in 2020.
In Buffalo, Tokarski came back to NHL prominence by splitting starting goalie duties with Craig Anderson and recording career-high numbers for starts (28) and wins (10). His utility and solid record for the Sabres brought him to the attention of the Penguins who were seeking to upgrade their goalie depth. Pittsburgh signed Tokarski as a free agent in July 2022.
Overall, Dustin Tokarski has proven himself a determined goaltender throughout all levels of the sport. He has a championship pedigree and the humility to play third-string and minor-league roles without complaint. His work ethic has allowed him to become a valuable member of several teams throughout his career which is a trend he aims to extend in Pittsburgh.
Another theme Tokarski surely wants to continue is his history of winning a championship in every level he’s played in. He’s yet to achieve that in the NHL but he’ll get a great opportunity to try with the Pittsburgh Penguins.