Tag: Brent Johnson

Brian Boucher

Boucher out 4-6 months, ‘Canes to seek goaltending help?

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There’s a new wrinkle in the free agent goalie market.

According to Carolina GM Jim Rutherford, ‘Canes backup Brian Boucher suffered a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 4-6 months, preventing him from being Cam Ward’s security blanket until at least October, possibly December.

That puts a spotlight on 25-year-old Justin Peters — he of the 28 career NHL appearances — who is an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Do the ‘Canes scramble to re-sign Peters, or acquire a more veteran presence?

“Obviously this thing with Brian’s injury gives Justin a better chance,” Rutherford explained. “But the fact that we’re this close to July 1, we’re probably going to wait a few days into [the free agency period] to make a decision.”

It’s hard to imagine who else the ‘Canes would land in free agency. They’re basically offering a temp position that will get crowded when Boucher comes back, so it’s shaping up to be a stopgap/filler signing — perhaps a guy that’s on the verge of not being in the league (read: Brent Johnson, Ty Conklin.)

Rangers make “progress” in bringing back backup Biron

Martin Biron, Viktor Stalberg

Adding Brad Richards certainly helped the New York Rangers jump up a level this season, but I think the team also exhibited the underrated value of a decent backup. For years, Henrik Lundqvist was expected to win too many games and play too many games for the Rangers, yet last season a healthy Martin Biron allowed the team to rest Hank.

With that in mind, it’s good – if not enormous – news that Katie Strang reports that there’s been “progress” made in contract talks between Biron and the Rangers.

Biron might be the ideal backup for Lundqvist on many levels. He’s been a starter earlier in his career, yet he must know that’s no longer his place – yet it still means that he’s likely comfortable “carrying the ball” from time to time.

Money will probably be the big question. It wouldn’t be surprising if Biron wants a little more than the $875K annual cap hit he received the last two seasons, yet the Rangers might want Biron to make the kind of dough that journeyman No.2’s such as Brent Johnson and Brian Boucher tend to net (maybe closer to $650K?).

If the Rangers don’t nab Biron, they’d be wise to get someone like him. A fresher Hank tends to be a more productive Hank.

Vokoun signing gives Penguins a viable playoffs alternative

Washington Capitals v San Jose Sharks

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a lot of reasons to be happy about inking Tomas Vokoun to a two-year/$4 million contract. Not the least of which is that it gives them an extra option during the postseason.

Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t get the job done against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. Their loss wasn’t entirely his fault, but the fact that they stuck with as he gave up 17 goals in Games 1 through 3 speaks volumes about how unwilling they were to give backup Brent Johnson a start.

Fleury ended up playing in all six games, posting a 4.63 GAA and .834 save percentage. That’s the third straight year that Fleury has finished the playoffs with a save percentage below .900.

So at this point, the Penguins might need an alternative to Fleury when the going gets tough. Penguins GM Ray Shero was recently asked if Vokoun could be a viable postseason option if Fleury struggles.

“Yeah,” Shero said. “It depends on how Tomas is playing, certainly, but with a guy like Vokoun, the last five or six years his save percentage is amongst the best in the league, and that’s playing lots of games.

“Internal competition is good. I hope it’s going to (bring out) the best in Marc. And the same thing with Tomas. He’s got a guy like Marc who’s going to push him for the net. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Maybe some competition is all Fleury will need to keep him sharp. Maybe playing in fewer games during the regular season will help. Still, if all else fails, the Penguins now have a plan B they can be comfortable with. That’s more than they had a few months ago.

Penguins acquire rights to Tomas Vokoun from Capitals, signs two-year $4 million deal

Tomas Vokoun

The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting a jump on the free agency crush in a big way.

The Pens acquired the rights to Tomas Vokoun from the Washington Capitals for a seventh round pick in the 2012 draft. Vokoun is set to become a free agent on July 1, but with the Penguins acquiring him they’ll have until then to work out a potential contract with him.

(UPDATE: Vokoun signs two-year, $4 million deal. That’s a $2 million cap hit)

Vokoun’s season in Washington came to an abrupt end thanks to a bad groin injury leaving the Caps to use Braden Holtby in the playoffs, a job he seized and made his own. If you’re thinking this is a move to make incumbent start Marc-Andre Fleury nervous, however, hold on a second.

Fleury was worked hard this season as backup Brent Johnson struggled. Fleury played in 67 games and looked obviously poor in the playoffs against Philadelphia after having a strong regular season.

This move harms the plans of other teams who had designs on signing Vokoun in July. Toronto had been rumored to have interest and Detroit sniffed around last summer. With Vokoun sticking with Pittsburgh, the hunt for goaltending (Roberto Luongo?) gets a bit hotter.

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Two

What began as a promising Stanley Cup run ended humbly on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 5-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers, losing their Eastern Conference quarterfinal four games to two.

In the end, the Pens were unable to dig themselves out of an 0-3 series hole — though they did make things interesting by winning Games 4 and 5.

What happened?

The Penguins fell apart defensively, especially on the penalty kill. Philadelphia set a franchise record with 12 power play goals in the series, scoring on over half its opportunities with the man advantage (finishing at a stunning 52 percent.)

Such an anemic power play would’ve been bad under normal circumstances, but in this series? It killed the undisciplined Pens, who accumulated nearly 150 penalty minutes and had three players (Craig Adams, James Neal and Arron Asham) suspended.

All told, the Penguins allowed 30 goals in six games.

Who takes the blame?

Lots of fingers will be pointed at Marc-Andre Fleury, and rightfully so. He let in a series of questionable markers and finished with horrific numbers (.832 save percentage, goals-against average over four). Pittsburgh’s leading penalty killers — Brooks Orpik, Zbynek Michalek, Pascal Dupuis and Adams — also have to shoulder some of the blame as well.

Evgeni Malkin will likely want to forget this series as well after being outplayed by 19-year-old Flyers rookie Sean Couturier.

What will they do about it?

The Pens need to find a capable backup netminder. Even though Fleury was nightmarish at times, Brent Johnson — who’d fallen out of favor earlier this season — only made one appearance this series, which spoke volumes of Dan Bylsma’s lack of faith in him.

Other than this, there’s not much Pittsburgh can do. It has 18 players on the books for $59 million next year — including maligned defenseman Paul Martin, signed until 2015 with an average annual cap hit of $5 million.


And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs