Some stunning news today.
Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing a procedure to have a blood clot in his pelvis dissolved.
Per a release from the Penguins, Vokoun left practice today at Consol Energy Center due to swelling in his thigh. After team medical staff examined him, he was taken to an emergency room for the procedure. He remains in the hospital.
Vokoun missed a the late stages of the 2005-06 regular season as well as the postseason while with the Predators due to blood clots in his pelvis.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero was hesitant to offer much information on Vokoun's health in a post-game press conference as the situation is still somewhat fluid. Shero suggested more would be known in two or three days.
-EN Says: Wow. Just wow.
Blood clots can be a very dangerous condition. Life threatening even. Thankfully for Vokoun, this was identified immediately and addressed.
When asked, Penguins general manager Ray Shero did not specify how this could impact the Penguins salary cap situation. Currently, the team is $1,098,333 over the salary cap according to CapGeek.com. All NHL teams must be compliant with the salary cap by Sept. 30. Potentially, the Penguins can put Vokoun on long-term injured reserve in order to relieve themselves of Vokoun's $2 million cap hit.
This terrible development could relieve the Penguins from having to part ways with the likes of Matt Niskanen or Tanner Glass in order to get salary cap compliant at the start of the season.
As far as the goaltending situation, this news comes on the heels of Marc-Andre Fleury having a less than stellar outing in a 5-3 preseason loss to the Blue Jackets in Consol Energy Center. Fleury allowed four goals on 23 shots. (The fifth was an empty netter). Presumably, the team was planning on relying on Vokoun to once again shoulder a fairly heavy workload during the preseason to keep Fleury fresh.
Now with Vokoun sidelined indefinitely, Fleury is the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender for this organization. Love him or hate him, you're going to see A LOT of Marc-Andre Fleury for the time being.
When asked about Fleury's work in the preseason, Shero said he's been "okay" and described him as "a work in progress." Shero added, "If Tomas is going to be out for a little while, it's going to a situation where Marc's going to have to step up."
Minor leaguer Jeff Zatkoff appears poised to be the No. 2 goaltender.
Zatkoff, 26, appeared in 49 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season and had a 26-20-0 record with a 1.93 goals against average, .920 save percentage and five shutouts. Since being selected by the Kings in the third round of the 2006 draft, Zatkoff has spent parts of the past five seasons at the ECHL or AHL levels.
Zatkoff has no NHL experience but at the same time, he's been in organization where the goaltending at the NHL level has been stacked. With the Kings, he was stuck behind Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. With the Penguins, he has been stuck behind Fleury or Vokoun. If he were a member of the Oilers or Lightning, he would have probably had a much better chance at seeing NHL action.
If the Penguins decide to kick the tires on any free agents available, the pickings are slim. One-time all-stars such as Ilya Bryzgalov, Rick DiPietro and Jose Theordore are unsigned. Also available is one-time Penguins goaltender Johan Hedberg.
(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)