Penguins Acquire Goaltender Tomas Vokoun; Veteran Netminder Signs Two-Year Contract
Monday, 06.04.2012 / 11:20 AM

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired goaltender Tomas Vokoun from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2012 seventh-round draft pick, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

The Penguins then signed Vokoun to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $2 million. Vokoun’s contract begins with the 2012-13 season and runs through the 2013-14 campaign.

Vokoun, 35, recently completed his 13th NHL season with Washington, posting a 25-17-2 record, 2.51 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and four shutouts in 48 games. One of Vokoun’s shutouts was a 30-save performance in a 1-0 victory over the Penguins on Jan. 11 at the Verizon Center.

A native of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, Vokoun’s 25 victories this season marked the ninth-straight season he has surpassed the 20-win plateau. During that span, Vokoun has topped 25 wins seven times, including three seasons when he has posted 30-plus victories.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Vokoun enters the 2012-13 season ranked sixth among active netminders with 287 career victories – leaving him 13 shy of becoming just the 31st goaltender in NHL history to reach 300 career wins.

Vokoun has appeared in 401 games since the NHL returned from the lockout in 2005-06, the eight-highest total during that span, while also posting 36 shutouts – an average of 5.1 per season. Over the last four seasons, the two-time NHL All-Star (2004, ’08) has posted a .923 save percentage.

Originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the ninth round (226th overall) of the 1994 NHL Draft, Vokoun has a career record of 287-284-78, along with a 2.55 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and 48 shutouts in 680 games with Montreal, Nashville, Florida and Washington.

Vokoun has also starred internationally on several occasions for his native Czech Republic. Last spring, Vokoun went 7-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average while helping the Czechs win the 2010 World Championship. He also led the Czechs to a gold medal at the 2005 World Championship, during which he went 7-1 with a 1.08 goals-against average. At the 2006 Turino Olympic Games, Vokoun backstopped the Czechs to a bronze medal.

Vokoun Wants to Win Cup with Pittsburgh
Monday, 06.04.2012 / 4:29 PM

The Penguins wanted to improve their goaltending depth this offseason. The team set its sights on netminder Tomas Vokoun, then went out and got their man.

Pittsburgh sent a seventh-round pick in the 2012 NHL draft to Washington in exchange for Vokoun. Then the Penguins signed the Czech goalie to a two-year, $4-million dollar contract.

“The whole team is great. I’ve played against them for five years,” Vokoun, 35, said. “I know that was one of the reasons why I decided to (sign). I want to be part of teams that are winning.”

While the trade and signing of Vokoun took place Monday morning, the deal wouldn’t have happened without some groundwork by Penguins general manager Ray Shero.

“Ray reached out to me. We had a good conversation,” Vokoun said. “I really liked what he was saying. I like Ray personally, and I’ve known him for a long time. But Pittsburgh, it’s a great hockey city. It’s a great team. I’m happy to be playing in hopefully a winning environment.”

Vokoun, who said he "feels great" and is "fully healed" from a groin injury suffered last season, certainly has an impressive resume during his 13-year NHL. He’s topped 25 victories for nine straight seasons, and topped 30 victories three times. His 287 career victories rank sixth among active netminders.

Vokoun’s career really took off after the NHL lockout. Since 2005-06, Vokoun appeared in 401 games, eighth-highest total in that span, and posted 36 shutouts – an average of 5.1 per season. In the last four years, he’s posted a .923 save percentage and has twice been named an NHL All-Star (2004, ’08).

With the combination of Vokoun and Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins have arguably the best goaltending tandem in the NHL.

“Marc is a goalie who’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s played quite a lot of hockey,” Vokoun said. “I don’t think he needs anyone to tell him what he needs to do. There’s a lot of pressure on him. It’s not easy to play for a team and an organization that’s a contender every year. Any area I can help, I’m going to try and do so.

"This is a team sport and that’s how I approach it. I know what situation I’m going into. I feel great about it. He can be a help to me and I can be a help to him. We will both benefit from that. I’m excited."

Playing for an organization that is a contender was a big selling point for Vokoun.

“I would love to win the Stanley Cup. I’ve been playing for a long time and I haven’t had a chance to do that,” Vokoun said. “For me, I think I could be useful in many situations. Whatever they’re going to need me to do, I’m going to try and do the best I can to help the team be successful.”

Authors: Sam Kasan and Michelle Crechiolo

Shero: Best Goalie Tandem We've Had in a Long Time
Monday, 06.04.2012 / 2:15 PM

With the acquisition and signing of netminder Tomas Vokoun to a two-year, $4 million deal on Monday, Penguins general manager Ray Shero feels Pittsburgh now has one of the best goalie tandems in the NHL.

“The ability to get Tomas Vokoun, with the track record that he has and being a veteran guy like that, made sense for us. And we got him,” Shero said.

Vokoun has established himself as one of the league’s elite netminders during his 13 NHL seasons. He won 25 games last season with Washington, marking the ninth-straight season he has surpassed the 20-win plateau. The two-time All-Star ranks sixth among active netminders with 287 career wins.

And bringing in a player of Vokoun’s caliber will only help Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Fleury had an outstanding 2011-12 campaign, setting a new career high and finishing second in the NHL with 42 wins. Among his many accomplishments, Fleury won 10 straight games from Feb. 18-March 17 (the second-longest streak of career) and had a 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1) from Feb. 18-March 25 – the third-longest stretch of his career.

But he also shouldered an intense workload, appearing in 67 games – including a career-high 23 straight appearances from Dec. 5-Jan. 31. Fleury has appeared in 62 or more games in five of the last six seasons, but the acquisition of Vokoun should ease some of that burden.

“We still believe in Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s one of the better goalies in the league," Shero said. "But the position is demanding, both physically and mentally. If you can get a quality guy like this that has a track record like Tomas has, mentally it will give Marc a break, but it also challenges him. It challenges Tomas as well. This is the best goaltending tandem we’ve had in a long time.”

The Penguins had targeted the goaltending position as a spot where they wanted to add depth. They eyed Vokoun up early, and then went out and grabbed him.

“What we have found, and it’s not hard to see, is that there’s just a lack of goaltending depth that’s available (in the league),” Shero said. “Instead of waiting until July 1, we identified Tomas and the chance to get his rights, that made sense to us. A guy like that, with his experience, made sense to us.

“It didn’t take too long to get a deal done. It’s good for both of us.”

The Penguins brass is quite familiar with Vokoun as a person and player. Shero was assistant general manager of the Predators during Vokoun's eight seasons in Nashville, assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerad was a teammates of Vokoun’s in Nashville and assistant director of amateur scouting Randy Sexton was the general manager in Florida, where Vokoun played from 2006-11.

“Tomas is a good goaltender; he’s a good person,” Shero said. “I was with him for a number of years in Nashville. Tom Fitzgerald played with him in Nashville, so we know the character of the player.

Shero jokingly added: “(Vokoun’s) agent said Tomas still likes me because I gave him his first one-way contract way back then.”

But at the end of the day, this was a move to improve the depth of the Penguins’ roster and to help the team’s No. 1 goaltender.

“The thing for us is that this is to help Marc-Andre. It’s to help his game,” Shero said. “To have a tandem like that really gives the coach options. … To have two guys that can play and win games for you and to have a guy like Tomas that can also serve as a bit of a mentor as well with Marc is good. We feel good about our goaltending today.”

Authors: Michelle Crechiolo and Sam Kasan