Signing Thomas Greiss Was A Mistake


Over the offseason new General Manager Jim Rutherford made it a priority to try and find an upgrade at backup goaltender. His solution was to sign a lifetime NHL backup in Thomas Greiss. At the end of last season Greiss managed to post a .920 save percentage and a 2.29 GAA playing for the Arizona Coyotes. An impressive feat when you consider the lack of offensive firepower on the Arizona roster and the amount of time opponents would be the Arizona zone. He managed to have his career season in twenty five games played for the Coyotes.

One of the best things Rutherford has done as GM is signing almost all of the free agents to one year deal to not handicap the franchise moving forward. This was the case with Thomas Greiss as he signed a one year $1 million dollar deal. So far he has played in eight games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has a posted a .919 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA. While last years backup Jeff Zatkoff played in 20 games, posted a .912 save percentage and a 2.61 GAA.

– Side note – Zatkoff this season is playing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and has played remarkably well. He has played in 19 games for WBS has a .932 save percentage and 1.69 GAA. Upon actually watching his play in net, it is painfully obvious that he is too good for the AHL. He makes eye popping saves nightly and has kept WBS afloat despite almost all of their notable players up with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While the Thomas Greiss’ save percentage is a hare better, his GAA is virtually the same. As the season progresses, it seems that Greiss was not the upgrade Rutherford had hoped for. Beyond the statistics when you examine Thomas Greiss’ play in net,  you cannot find anything to suggest he is a better candidate to backup starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

From what I have seen Thomas Greiss should be the starter for the WBS Penguins and Jeff Zatkoff should be backing up Marc-Andre Fleury. Many Penguins fans have no faith in Zatkoff because last season at times he was shaky, but consider that last year was his first NHL experience ever. While Thomas Greiss before this season started had played in 69 games at the NHL level.

Jan 25, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff (37) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Penguins 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Zatkoff was shaky last season but considering it was his first experience at the NHL it was a solid first season. With a season under his belt I think that Jeff Zatkoff would be an excellent backup for the Penguins and in his one chance this season he showed how a season can change a player. He played in one game in relief duty and posted a .941 save percentage and 1.62 GAA.

Maybe Thomas Greiss is the better cantidate, but at the same time does it even matter? With starter Marc-Andre Fleury on pace to play 65 games there is hardly any reason to fret over who is his backup. But as I have expressed before, why overplay Marc-Andre Fleury when you spend more money over the offseason to upgrade his backup.

So far Thomas Greiss has sat on the bench for most of the season, collecting a paycheck. It is not a bad job if you can get it but come on, play Greiss or don’t sign him. Right now the Pittsburgh Penguins are virtually wasting money by paying Greiss.