I hope nobody is upset by the text they received today announcing that the Penguins have signed Tomas Vokoun as their backup goalie for 2 years at $2 million per year in exchange for a 7th round draft pick going to the Washington Capitals.
As far as gaining a reliable backup goalie (barring the 36 year old veteran sustaining any serious), Vokoun is about as solid as they come. He has had a respectable career. In 680 games played, he averages 2.55 goals against and has a save percentage of .917. This is compared with Brent Johnson’s career of GAA 2.63 and SV% of .904.
Johnson was instrumental in the Penguins progress and success through the 2010-2011 season, but struggled this past season, winning only six of his 16 games. There is a definite need for a reliable and consistent backup for Fleury, who tied his career high games played from 2009-2010 of 67.
Vokoun being right handed has definite advantages and adds more versatility to the Pens goalie tandem.
The obvious question now is: Who has to leave to make room for Vokoun’s salary? With James Neal increasing his salary by a little over $3 million a season to $5 million, there is serious question about the Pens being able to afford star players. The Pens keep their free cap space tight, usually at between $200-300k. With the CBA up in the air, who knows what will happen?
Next season, both Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal’s contracts being up, they are looking to resign now. The rumor mill today says that Crosby is looking for a 7 year deal. I’m not getting into that on this blog.
Honestly, I think that Staal is as good as gone. Rumors are floating around that the Oilers and Hurricanes are interested. If Staal goes to the Oilers, we would potentially get the first overall pick in the draft (I cant already hear the whining that the league has a conspiracy to make the Pens the best team continue). So the Pens could potentially get Nail Yakupov while unloading $4 mil in cap space? I fail to see where this is a bad thing.
The Pens could send Staalsy to Carolina, potentially for Brandon Sutter, who would give the Pens another big body presence, along with respectable scoring. Or what about potentially Nashville for Ryan Suter for a much needed defenseman? That unfortunately does nothing to help the cap, but there is obviously more going on here that the public doesn’t know about.
Who else could be on the chopping block to alleviate cap space? Brooks Orpik or Zbynek Michalek. They both have NMC, but they would be easy to unload packaged with Tyler Kennedy. The Pens have a lot of up and coming talent in the D-corps, but I don’t believe that moving Paul Martin is an option because well…I don’t know who would take his contract.
There is a lot to consider and this off season will likely have all Pens fans pulling their hair out as we await news on trades and acquisitions.
At any rate, no news yet on Brent Johnson, who is a free agent this season. But, it has been an honor having Johnny in Pittsburgh and we wish him all the best, wherever his career may take him!
Welcome to Pittsburgh, Vokoun! Look forward to watching you play!