Last season, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma had the luxury of a two-headed monster. And I’m not talking about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This dynamic duo was swapping starts in between the pipes.
Marc-Andre Fleury has always been Bylsma’s go-to man in net. But when the Flower needed a well-deserved night off, backup Tomas Vokoun was a solid No. 2 guy and the Penguins seemed to be confident in his ability to take some pressure off Fleury.
And who can forget the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last year when Vokoun stepped in for the struggling Fleury? He came up big in so many ways as he bailed Pittsburgh out with incredible performances against the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and even Boston Bruins, despite being swept in the Conference Finals.
It seemed as though Bylsma would have that advantage once again going into the 2013-14 season. However, a blood clot has sidelined Vokoun indefinitely and it is uncertain when he will be able to return.
This put the Penguins in a situation where they have been forced to start rookie Jeff Zatkoff. As a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006 draft, Zatkoff has a 1-2-0 record with a 3.36 goals against average and a shaky .865 save percentage.
The last thing Bylsma wants to do is play Fleury in 60-plus games this season, especially if he ends up scoring a spot on Team Canada’s roster last minute. It will be too much to ask of the Penguins’ netminder to play that much and have enough to make a push in the postseason.
One thing GM Ray Shero may want to consider (and even consult with Bylsma about) is going on the market and making a trade for a backup goaltender for Fleury.
Even in a division where the Penguins seem to have a great edge, it is only a matter of time before the Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils make a dent and make things interesting. The Washington Capitals are already making a run at their new divisional foe, so Pittsburgh may not want to take that kind of a gamble.
So, who is out there?
Frederick Anderson is looking as though he could be the odd man out in goal for the Ducks. Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller are already a two-headed monster for the Ducks. As the top team in the NHL, Anaheim has a very good problem of holding three good goaltenders on their roster.
If the Penguins could somehow cut ties with a player like Tanner Glass or even Matt Niskanen, the Ducks may be willing to make such a deal to help with their special teams which both rank in the bottom five of the league.
Once certain players come back to the Penguins lineup, there may be some other pieces that could be dealt. Others they could cut ties with are Dustin Jeffrey, Craig Adams and Robert Bortuzzo.
Anderson is a perfect 5-0-0 with a dazzling 1.50 GAA and a .947 save percentage. Pretty nice numbers for a guy who will probably be sent back to the minors once Fasth is healthy.
Shero may have more to offer than some of the other candidates and since we have already seen some early-season trades, it would not be out of the question. Whether the Penguins decide to give Zatkoff another look or two, he does not seem to have the stuff to be in the NHL yet. And acquiring a backup goaltender would be very beneficial for the team because who knows what kind of condition Vokoun will be in when he returns.