While it remains uncertain as to when Pittsburgh Penguins’ backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun will return, there’s still the question as to if he’ll ever play this season.
And although goaltender Jeff Zatkoff improved drastically in his most recent start, are the Pens’ willing to ride with him for potentially the entire season — especially if Marc-Andre Fleury has another postseason meltdown?
I don’t buy it.
The organization has no cap room to work with; however, if they were to ship a player that had an almost identical contract as the player they’d acquire, the potential maneuver could transpire.
One team that the Pens’ could talk to is the Anaheim Ducks about goaltender Viktor Fasth.
Continuing to promote Jonas Hiller as the starting netminder, the Ducks’ current backup goaltender Frederik Andersen has played magnificent in place of Fasth — who’s working his way back from the injured reserve.
With that being said, Anaheim might be willing to part ways with one of their goaltenders’ and Fasth would be a probable candidate because of his contract situation. Owing him $2.9 million for this season and the next, Fasth is making a considerable amount of money over rookie Andersen, who currently has proved can be just as reliable as him.
Who would the Pens’ give up in return you ask — defenseman Matt Niskanen.
I know it’s getting redundant when I say Pittsburgh will include Niskanen in any deal they complete this season, but his contract suggests it. Due to become an unrestricted free agent at seasons’ end, Niskanen is going to continue to be the top candidate to be moved because of the logjam on defense Pittsburgh’ has.
The 26-year-old former first-rounder is raking in $2.3 million for this season, and although that doesn’t match Fasth’ contract, Anaheim might be willing to take on say forward Dustin Jeffrey’s contract as well ($625,000).
Ducks’ defenseman Sheldon Souray is out long-term, and because Niskanen’s value is as high as it’ll probably be, it makes the deal plausible. Pittsburgh might have to include a draft pick as well to land Fasth, but in a long-term perspective, it’d be an important acquisition.
Knowing that General Manager Ray Shero has built a good relationship with Ducks’ General Manager Bob Murray over recent years, it only seems like rational speculation that a deal could surface. As Pens’ fans recall, the team acquired forward Chris Kunitz from Anaheim, and last year the team traded defenseman Ben Lovejoy to the Ducks as well.
The deal for Fasth all around seems like a relative discussion because even if Vokoun were to come back, there’s no telling how he’ll perform. And since his recovery is said to take 3-to-6 months, he might be out till the postseason, which leaves little room to get back into game shape.
For now the team will continue to evaluate Zatkoff’s future as their back goaltender, but I think for the postseason’s sake it’d be wise to look elsewhere.