Pittsburgh Penguins: Tomas Vokoun Signing Will Jolt Marc-Andre Fleury in 2013

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIIJune 4, 2012

The Pittsburgh Penguins added much-needed depth at the goaltending position on Monday, acquiring and later signing former Washington Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun to a multi-year deal (per ESPN.com).

The Penguins addressed an issue that haunted them in the playoffs this season when the Philadelphia Flyers were scoring at will on Marc-Andre Fleury.

It would've been the obvious choice to pull Fleury in most of those games and go with a backup, but what can you do when your backup is worse than your struggling starter?


It was a helpless feeling for Penguins fans, as there was absolutely nothing they could do.

Brent Johnson was the backup goaltender this season for the Penguins. He had some solid years with the Penguins, but he struggled this season. He had a 6-7-2 record with an atrocious .883 save percentage and 3.11 GAA. 

Perhaps a better backup goaltender would've allowed Fleury to recuperate and get his act together. We all know how great Fleury can be when he's on his game. If Fleury had time to clear his mind and regain his confidence, then who knows how far the Penguins could've gone in the playoffs?

Maybe we could've seen them playing this week against the Los Angeles Kings.

This is why the Vokoun acquisition is so beneficial for the Penguins. It gives the team depth, but more importantly, it puts some pressure on Fleury to perform well.

Vokoun is a proven starter. He has 48 career shutouts and a career GAA of 2.55. There's no doubt that if Fleury continues to struggle into next season, Vokoun could temporarily take over the starting job.

This, of course, means that Fleury will be forced to perform well throughout the season. It's sort of like a flame under his rear end that will jolt his mind and put him under the impression that he has no other choice but to stop pucks.

It sounds ridiculous, but it's simply a case of moral hazard. 

When employees knows that their job is safe, their performance may sag because of the fact that they know that no matter how poorly they perform, they're still going to be the main man.

That may have been the case for Fleury when Johnson was pretty much a ghost between the pipes last season. However, it'll be quite different when Vokoun is threatening to start.

As of now, Fleury is still the No. 1 goalie in Pittsburgh. His job is safe. But the fact that Vokoun is there will ensure that the job remains safe. 

There's no way Fleury can afford to play poorly—especially at the start of the season. If he allows goals at the same rate he did during the 2012 playoffs, fans are going to be calling for Vokoun from the get-go. 

The acquisition gives Fleury an incentive to shine like he did during the 2009 playoffs. 

Finally, Vokoun will help take some of the load off of Fleury in the regular season. It's awfully difficult for a goalie to play in 67 games and perform well in the playoffs. 

So, it's a great day for hockey in Pittsburgh. 

The Penguins became a better team, and fans should be ecstatic about the prospects of 2012-13.