Penguins acquire Tomas Vokoun, sign him to two-year deal

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer
VokounWe already knew that free agent goalie Tomas Vokoun wasn't going to be returning to the Washington Capitals. On Monday morning the team traded his free agent rights to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 2012 seventh-round draft pick.

The Penguins then followed that up by signing him to a two-year, $4 million contract extension.

And with that, the free agent goalie market takes a pretty significant hit.

The initial reaction might be a bit of a surprise given that Pittsburgh already has a lot of money invested in a starting goalie -- Marc-Andre Fleury -- but when you dig a little deeper it seems like it could be a good match for both sides.

For one, no matter what your opinion of Fleury is as a goalie (and he is a polarizing player when it comes to his performance -- it seems people either think he's a top-five goalie or a waste of a contract with no room for an in between argument, even if it's the right one) the Penguins top priority this season had to be finding another goalie that is capable of playing behind him.
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Or perhaps even sharing the responsibilities with him.

The Penguins backup during the 2011-12 campaign, Brent Johnson, had a terrible season and wasn't capable of giving the team reliable play in net. That resulted in Fleury being run into the ground over the second half of the season. He followed that up with a disastrous postseason performance in the Penguins opening round loss to Philadelphia.

Vokoun would not only give them a second starting caliber goalie, but also one that is capable of giving Fleury a bit of a push, which wouldn't be a terrible thing. While he's an extremely athletic goalie that makes some eye-popping saves, his overall performance in recent years from an objective point of view has been closer to average than elite. It's dropped even more in the playoffs (his save percentage in the playoffs since winning the Cup in '09 is below .900).

The Penguins still view Fleury as part of their core, so he's not going anywhere. But they needed somebody else in net that can play at the NHL level. And they were able to get the top free agent at the position that was going to be available this summer.

The Penguins now have $7 million invested in the position for the next couple of seasons, which is one of the highest figures in the league.

Photo: Getty Images

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