As if the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending situation couldn’t get any cloudier, news broke a few days ago that Penguins backup netminder Tomas Vokoun would be out indefinitely with a blood clot in his pelvis.
GM Ray Shero made the announcement at a press conference after a preseason game against Columbus. Apparently, Vokoun noticed pain and swelling in his hip after a morning skate, and after he was rushed to the hospital he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lower hip. He immediately began surgery to have the clot dissolved, which apparently was successful. He is still in the hospital for observation, and Shero said he would announce more when more information came into the light.
This isn’t the first time Vokoun has had to deal with something like this. When he was with the Nashville Predators in 2006, Vokoun missed nearly the entire season recovering from a series of blood clots he had to remove. The fact that he’s had issues with this in the past makes it all the more scary and makes his future and the future of the Penguins uncertain.
While he only played a handful of games in the regular season last year, he took over in the playoffs after starter Marc-Andre Fleury struggled in the first round against the Islanders and took them all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Whether you think he should be the starter or not, it’s undeniable that his presence will be sorely missed in the locker room.
So what does this mean for the Pens? Well, for one, it means Marc-Andre Fleury will have to step up and shoulder the bulk of the workload this season. As far as backups go, Pittsburgh has two options from the AHL: net minders Jeff Zatkoff and Eric Hartzell. Both would be cheap, but who knows how they’d handle the NHL. Rumors have been in circulation for months that the Pens could make a push to sign upcoming free agent Ryan Miller as an insurance policy if they try to jettison Fleury after Vokoun’s contract runs out.
At this point, it’s anyones guess.