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.