Vokoun A Penguin
In an offseason of questions for the Pittsburgh Penguins, there is one thing that cannot be questioned, there will be changes made. The first move was made as the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired the rights to Washington Capital goaltender Tomas Vokoun and quickly signed him to a two year deal worth $4-Million. The Penguins traded their 7th round draft pick in the 2012 NHL draft for the negotiation rights. His signing signals the end of three year backup Brent Johnson, who fell out of favor after a weak season.
This move was extremely surprising, especially to those in Pittsburgh who had expected AHL goaltender Brad Thiessen to make his way up to the NHL level as a full term back up. Vokoun, however, signed to be specifically a back up. His knowledge of his role became clear when he spoke with Penguins GM Ray Shero. He will be giving Marc-Andre Fleury the needed rest during the season so that he will not be worn out by the playoffs, a big problem this season with Fleury playing close to 70 games this season.
Vokoun brings a large cap hit. His two million covers over triple the amount that Brent Johnson was signed for, but he is expected to carry a much larger role. As a career starter, Vokoun has a .917 save percentage and a 2.55 goals against on some rather weak teams. On a team where he is going to be the backup, Vokoun will be able to rest himself and hopefully stay away from injury. He will be expected to play anywhere from 25 to 30 games, enough for a stable backup to rest the starter.
His career play brings great stability to the Penguins and all in all, was a strong move on Ray Shero’s part. This is a league were many teams do not have a legitimate number one goaltender and Pittsburgh is now lucky enough to have an excellent tandem. With Tim Thomas taking the season off and the tandem in Vancouver being broken up, Pittsburgh might actually claim a top three tandem in the NHL next season.
All of this is going to be great, however, it begs us to look deeper into what the plan is from here on out. Vokoun takes up two million dollars in cap space and even by eliminating the contract of Brent Johnson, the Pens have to eliminate a few other contracts in order to stay under the cap. It is safe to say that moves will be made and a few players will not be resigned. This will be discussed on a later date when more information becomes apparent, hopefully by the time the draft arrives. What we do know now is that the Pens are at the cap limit and are expected to make more moves, so keep an eye on Pittsburgh, for as Dan Bylsma said, changes are coming this season.