The Pittsburgh Penguins should not be trading for a backup goalie. Not any time soon anyway. The pressure has been placed on Ray Shero to trade for an experienced goalie to take some of the load off of Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulders. Fleury is on pace to set a career high in starts.
Based on four starting appearances by Jeff Zatkoff, Dan Bylsma doesn’t seem to have much faith in him as the Pens’ backup. Zatkoff was lucky enough to fall into the backup role once Tomas Vokoun went down with a blood clot in his pelvis. Many people doubt Zatkoff’s ability since he’s played in the AHL for the past four seasons. His shaky start, going win-less in his first two games, didn’t get him a vote of confidence from the Pens’ fan base either. It was assumed that Zatkoff would fill-in for a very short period of time. Then a veteran goaltender would be acquired to replace Zatkoff sooner rather than later.
This trade is nowhere near taking place. A return by Vokoun this season is not out of the question yet. According to Sam Kasan of PittsburghPenguins.com, Vokoun doesn’t even know the status of his own health. He won’t find out until he visits his doctor in about a month according to Kasan. The Pens are waiting to hear what Vokoun’s doctor says about his career and the possibility of a return this season. The hope that Vokoun might return should stall any potential deals.
“It’s hard to look that far ahead. Definitely if I can (return) I want to try,” Vokoun said. “I don’t have a definite yes or no. It will depend on the recommendations of doctors. So far I haven’t had any problems or setbacks.” –PittsburghPenguins.com
Regardless of Vokoun’s status, Shero won’t consider another backup goaltender until closer to the trade deadline. If forced to make a move, he’ll have to give up some depth within the organization and be absolutely positive that he finds the right goalie. The Pens don’t need a goaltender who is playing great right now. Shero will be searching for a net-minder playing great towards the end of the season just in case his services are required.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will also factor into Shero’s decision regarding the backup goalie situation. If a goalie gets injured in Sochi, this may cause another team to make a trade that they’d otherwise not want to make. A high-profiled position player may get injured in the Olympics and force a team to make a trade as well. These possibilities will keep Shero from making any moves before the gold medal is decided.
Down the road, the Pens may have other holes they’d like to patch in addition to finding a backup. Considering their salary cap and everything that might happen, making a move now makes no sense. Shero will definitely pull the trigger on a deal if Vokoun is unable to return this season. Zatkoff would likely be sent to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins once a deal was final.
Until this time comes, give Zatkoff some credit. He lost his first two NHL starts, but only played poorly in one of those games. Zatkoff is unbeaten in his last four contests with a .944 SV%. He has a shutout to boast of as well.
Justin Glock has covered the Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers since 2011. As a lead writer, his Penguins knowledge traces back over two decades. For any requests, please feel free to contact Justin via email: JGlock10@gmail.com.