Jan 10, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (37) makes a save during warmup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Zatkoff’s Time in Pittsburgh Limited?


 

Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltender Jeff Zatkoff has been a pleasant surprise this year.

Given a chance to backstop netminder Marc-Andre Fleury due to the long-term injury suffered by Tomas Vokoun, Zatkoff has provided Pittsburgh with steady goaltending, and was rewarded for his play with a two-year extension.

Posting a record of 8-2-1 through 11 contests, Zatkoff has one shutout, and owns a 2.80 goals-against-average with a .903 save percentage.

However, with Vokoun speculated to return at some point this season, could Zatkoff’s presence on the roster be nearing its end?

The Pens’ don’t have a boatload of cap space remaining, and Vokoun will take up $2 million when he eventually does become reinserted. That, and teams’ just don’t carry three goaltenders.

Vokoun’s not going anywhere, and that means Zatkoff’s time is almost up. It’s hard to see him leave because of how much growth he’s shown since his first two NHL starts. And it’s difficult to send a guy down whose been a positive character to have in the locker room, but that’s how it’ll all play out.

Vokoun took shots today after the team’s practice, and although he has a long road ahead of him, he’s moving in the right direction. Unless he is somehow traded at the deadline, which I believe is highly unlikely, Vokoun will once again be the insurance for Fleury – should he endure another postseason meltdown.

It’s mixed emotions really. You feel for Zatkoff because he has to probably head down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but you also know he has no playoff experience. And the postseason is where Vokoun made his name last season.

So, while we have a ways to go before Vokoun is confirmed to return, be ready to anticipate Zatkoff’s re-assignment when he does.

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  • Pivot

    The Pens know it and you all know it but I’ll be the one to say it. The Pens will go as far as Flower can take them. Volkun is a backup at this point in his career and if the Penguins need him to step in again in the playoffs. That is the beginning of the end. Volkun is a solid goalie but he isn’t making the big save or two needed to win a tight 2-1 playoff game. That is for Fleury to do. The Pens play the same way the Rangers did under Tortarella. Low Zone collapse and a zone defensive strategy. Only difference is the Pens use more of a Man to Man when the puck goes up to the point. Any time the puck is in the slot all 5 guys protect the house so teams don’t get a hundred scoring chances on that type of D zone coverage. Fleury should have no problem shutting the door in the playoffs. Let’s see what he does tho! What Shero should do (if he were smart) is sure up the bottom 2 or 4 defenseman (depending on injuries come playoffs) with proven shutdown type guys. The team has plenty of scoring. Make Fleury’s job as easy as possible. That’s how I’d go if I were GM but I look forward to this seasons playoff meltdown in Pitt. LGR!!! The Rangers will be the team to come from the East this year.

  • Derrick Graffius

    The Pens may have no choice but to carry 3 goaltenders. The way the goalie market has been in recent years, and with how well Zatkoff has played, the chances of him clearing waivers are slim to none. They gave him a 2-year extension because they see him being the NHL backup in the coming years, so why would they trade him or lose him for nothing on waivers?