GM Ray Shero’s fingernails must be chewed to the bone this morning after learning Wednesday that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is out at least a month and a half with a high ankle sprain.
As Adam Proteau pointed out in his blog entry from Wednesday, Pittsburgh already had plenty of tending woes and this injury only hastens the flightless birds’ need to upgrade – if only temporarily – between the pipes.
If I’m Shero I’m placing calls to Montreal (regarding Cristobal Huet), Ottawa (take your pick: Ray Emery or Martin Gerber), Toronto (Andrew Raycroft) and Nashville (Dan Ellis).
The Penguins’ expected charge to the cap is around $42 million, so salary really isn’t an issue.
Of the lot, your best bet for immediate success is one of the two Sens goalies (prorated cap hit of $3.2 million for Emery; $3.7 million for Gerber). The price for one of the two may not be cheap, though, because if Ottawa is serious about making a run at the Cup this season – which they should be – they’ll want to keep both keepers as an insurance policy should one get injured (Emery’s been hampered all season) or go in the tank.
Huet’s another proven No. 1 and his cap hit is only $2.8 million, but he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. Again, the asking price would be high as the Habs likely aren’t willing to hand the reins over to Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak just yet.
Raycroft ($2 million) could be picked up for nothing, but he doesn’t have nearly the same productive history as Gerber, Emery or Huet and hasn’t shown he can carry a team since his Calder-winning campaign in 2003-04.
The most intriguing option is Ellis, who is making next to nothing ($500,000), is a UFA after this season (so you’re not tied to him if he doesn’t work out) and may not cost the Pens too much with Pekka Rinne waiting in the wings.
Ellis, who’s hardly a household name and had played exactly one NHL game prior to this season, has been very solid when given the opportunity in 2007-08, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.23 goals-against average and .922 save percentage with two shutouts.
And with Ellis, even if Fleury returns to form when he returns from injury, you’ve got yourself a sturdy backup at a cheap price.
Whatever the direction, Pittsburgh can’t afford to stand pat, as a pile of losses during Fleury’s absence would leave them on the outside looking in come playoff time.
Putting your playoff hopes on the shoulders of Dany Sabourin is a risk the Penguins shouldn’t take.
The Stanley Cup made an appearance at The Hockey News offices Wednesday. For many of us it was the first time we had a chance to spend time with hockey’s Holy Grail (have a look at the photo gallery HERE).
To be so close and actually touch the historic hardware that has been hoisted over the heads of so many of the game’s greats was a truly extraordinary experience.
I know I’m not alone in saying it was an afternoon I’ll never forget.
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