If the Pittsburgh Penguins want to stay Stanley Cup contenders they need to find a veteran back-up and find one soon.
The loss of Tomas Vokoun has left the Pittsburgh Penguins scrambling for depth in the goal crease. Vokoun was diagnosed with a blood clot in his pelvis this weekend and is out for an extended period of time. For Vokoun, this is not the first time he has suffered from this ailment.
For the Penguins, they are left dangerously thin in goal. They are now forced to turn to Marc-Andre Fleury who, even though he was named the starter in pre-season, was going to be on an extremely short leash after his disastrous Stanley Cup Playoff run last spring. Pittsburgh no longer has the plan B in Vokoun that worked so wonderfully for them after Fleury’s meltdown. If Fleury hits a rocky road again the Penguins have no veteran alternative.
Jeff Zatkoff is slated to be Fleury’s back-up for right now but he has yet to appear in an NHL game. That doesn’t leave Penguin fans with a high level of confidence especially because no one has any idea which Fleury we will see this season. Will it be the masterful Fleury of their Cup run of a few seasons ago? Or will it be the dreadfully awful Fleury of last spring?
One logical solution for Pittsburgh is to sign Jose Theodore. Theodore is looking for a match on the free agent market and the Penguins would be an ideal fit. But would he be an upgrade to Zatkoff?
Even in his most current incarnation, Theodore has the edge on Zatkoff with 648 more NHL games, a Vezina, and a Hart Trophy.
I’ll admit, Theodore was brutal last year with only 28% of his starts being quality starts (QS%), and Theodore has seen his fair share of ups and downs since the NHL’s return from the first lock-out in 2006. But, while he is far from an elite goalie, he is a serviceable veteran back-up that can play well in stretches. This is exactly what the Penguins need. The Penguins don’t need him to be 2002 Theodore, they just need him to be 2011 Theodore, in which he finished the year with a .916 SV% and a 2.46 GAA.
Theodore has a wealth of experience and has been at the crossroads of stardom that Fleury is right now. I see the acquisition of Theodore as a move that might actually make Fleury play better. He won’t be threatened and it would be a great mentor situation for Fleury. Both are French-Canadian and at one point Theodore was the best player in the game in the league’s most hockey crazy market. I bet he has learned a lesson or two that he can share with Fleury about failed potential. What’s even better is that Theodore wouldn’t rock the boat like other potential free agent goaltenders on the market. From all sources I’ve ever spoken to he is a good team player and a good guy to have in the room. Oh yeah, and he will come cheap. You could likely get Theodore at around $1 million or less and once Vokoun returns you can trade try and trade him or send him to the AHL.
In today’s NHL to be thin at the game’s more important position is a dangerous high-wire act and the Penguins are currently operating with out a net.
It’s time to make a move.