Tomas Vokoun just finished the most trying season of his career. He had a life-threatening blood clot in his leg in the preseason that caused him to miss the entire season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, returning just at the end of the season after a short conditioning stint in the AHL.
The veteran goaltender was already leaning toward retiring after the season and the blood clot issue seemed to only further that belief.
"Regardless of what happened, I was 90 percent sure it was going to be my last season anyway." That was Vokoun to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in early April.
Apparently Vokoun has had a change of heart because according to his agent Allan Walsh, Vokoun has every intention of playing again next season.
I spoke with Tomas Vokoun earlier today and he is 100% committed to playing in the NHL next season.— Allan Walsh (@walsha) June 10, 2014
First of all, it's fantastic that Vokoun is feeling good enough these days to be that serious about returning to the NHL next season. More than anything, that's the best news here and hopefully no issues arise to derail his goal.
But on the practicality side you have to wonder if his goal is attainable. Vokoun is a free agent this summer and finding work could be tough. A lot of young goaltenders were worked into the league as backups this season and most teams are set to the point it's hard to see where a goalie like Ryan Miller might land, let alone Vokoun. Coming off a year in which he didn't play, it would be a risk, perahsp one bigger than any team wants to take.
If he is able to return, though, and is capable of playing like he did prior to the clot issue, he could be a steal as a reliable veteran backup that at this point would probably come at a very cheap price.
In 2012-13 Vokoun, who turns 38 on July 2, played a big role for the Penguins as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleur, going 13-4 in the regular season with a .919 save percentage. He then took over the starting role in the playoffs from Fleury and went 6-5 with terrific numbers of a .933 save percentage and 2.01 goals against average. The Penguins just couldn't score against Boston.