by Drew Shetler
A potentially busy offseason for the Pittsburgh Penguins began Monday with a trade with the conference rival Washington Capitals, when the Penguins traded a seventh-round draft pick in the 2012 draft for the rights to goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
Vokoun was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but signed a two-year contract worth $4 million. This move bolsters up a weakness for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins No. 1 goaltender, appeared in 69 games last season, setting a career high for him in his young career.
The heavy work load clearly took a toll on him as his play in the first round of the playoffs was subpar, giving up 26 goals on 157 shots, a save percentage of .834 and a goal against average of 4.63, leading to the Penguins early elimination.
If Vokoun, who missed most of last season with a groin injury, is 100 percent healthy this could be a great asset for both the Penguins and Fleury.
Vokoun is a veteran of 14 seasons, establishing a career record of 287-284-35-43. For many years he was the No. 1 guy for the Florida Panthers and knows what it takes to not only play in this league but to play well.
He will take some of the games and pressure away from Fleury allowing Flower to rest more. With a rested Fleury the Penguins should make a deeper run in the playoffs.
For instance, during the 08-09 season, the year the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, Fleury only appeared in 62 games, winning 35 of those. In the playoffs he played 24 games had a save percentage of .908 and a goals against average of 2.61.
The Penguins have $7 million tied up in their goaltending position over the next two seasons. However, there is talk of the National Hockey League’s salary cap being raised to $70 million, which would be great for the Penguins as they are currently coming in at about $61 million.
The Penguins have a lot of work to do in the upcoming offseason, as it will be time to discuss a new contract with Sidney Crosby and Steve Sullivan is set to be an unrestricted free agent.
Whatever free agency will bring, one thing is for sure that Ray Shero and the Penguins staff will be very busy. And they are already one move ahead with the Vokoun acquisition.