Goalie Thiessen chooses to stay with Penguins
By Jonathan Bombulie (staff writer)
Published: July 1, 2012
One day before the free-agent signing period began, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins filled one of their biggest needs.
They found a No. 1 goaltender, and he looks a lot like their No. 1 goaltender from the past two and half seasons.
Brad Thiessen re-signed with the team Saturday, agreeing to a one-year, two-way contract.
Thiessen, 26, would have been an unrestricted free agent today, free to shop his services to any NHL team, if he hadn't re-signed with the Penguins.
"This process has been a real eye-opener," Thiessen said. "As a goaltender, there are only so many spots available. If you look at the landscape, there are a lot of goalies looking for spots, and if you find yourself on the outside, you could really be scrambling."
After having a career year in 2010-11, going 35-8-1 with a .922 save percentage and earning AHL goalie of the year honors, Thiessen took a step back last season.
He went 3-1 in NHL call-up duty with Pittsburgh and was outstanding in the Calder Cup playoffs, but his regular-season numbers - 23-15-2 with an .887 save percentage - weren't up to his standards.
"Over the course of the season, I think I struggled with my consistency at times," Thiessen said. "I was still winning. I didn't feel like I was costing my team games. But I wasn't playing to the level I expect. I think in the playoffs, my battle and compete level went up. I think that's something I can learn from."
And while the season might have been a good learning experience, it didn't leave him in the best bargaining position heading into potential free agency.
"You have to be able to stand out," Thiessen said.
So he decided it was best to return to a place where his name is all over the goaltending pages of the team record book.
"Having been with the organization for three years, it's definitely first class," Thiessen said. "I really enjoy being around the coaches and the trainers and the front-office staff."
Even with Thiessen signed, the Penguins will probably be looking to add another goaltender in free agency, unless the organization unexpectedly decides 22-year-old Patrick Killeen is ready for AHL duty.
Scott Munroe filled the veteran AHL goalie role well last season, and the team hasn't ruled out bringing him back, although he will become an unrestricted free agent today.
Beyond that, the Penguins will likely be looking to shore up their depth up front in free agency.
The organizational depth chart on defense is jam-packed with talented prospects, while the forward pool is extremely shallow.
For instance, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's top five scorers from last season - Ben Street, Bryan Lerg, Colin McDonald, Geoff Walker and Jason Williams - are all unrestricted free agents. Williams has already signed with a team in Switzerland.