Penguins GM Ray Shero kicked off what should be another busy offseason around the NHL with an interesting trade and signing Monday, acquiring goalie Tomas Vokoun from the Washington Capitals for a seventh-round pick in this month’s draft and then signing the UFA-to-be netminder to a $4 million, two-year deal.
But first, after getting permission from the Caps, he spoke with Vokoun for 40 minutes Sunday to ensure the veteran wanted to go to Pittsburgh.
"I wanted to find out his interest level in playing here," Shero told ESPN.com Monday. "He wants to go to a place where he has a chance to win. He’s 35 and will be 36. We talked about what we had here. He’s played against us a lot, he was comfortable with the setup here and confident he could help Marc and help our team. He said he was excited when he heard it was Pittsburgh."
Vokoun is a clear upgrade over backup Brent Johnson and, as a longtime starter in the NHL, will allow Marc-Andre Fleury not to be overtaxed next season. The feeling this season was that Fleury played too much and was tired come playoff time, when he was lit up by Philadelphia.
"We felt goaltending was a position we wanted to upgrade if we could," Shero said. "Marc played 69 games last season. The position has also changed and it’s much more physically demanding. The collisions at the crease, players at the net, you’re battling a lot as a goalie. Physically and mentally it takes its toll, I believe. So we talked about ways to help Marc-Andre Fleury. We like him as our goaltender but to be able to get a guy like Tomas makes sense for us."
The move won’t only keep Fleury fresh, Shero said, but also the hope is that Vokoun -- a longtime starter -- will push Fleury.
"And I know Tomas. I had him in Nashville," said Shero. "He’s a quality goaltender but also a good person. I don’t see any problems there with Marc-Andre."
Garrison exploded for a career-high 16 goals this season while earning $700,000.
"We’re going to start the process this week, we’re going to talk and see where it goes," Panthers GM Dale Tallon told ESPN.com Monday. "I talked to his agent at the combine last week and said I hoped we could get together this week and see if we could get something done."
Jagr in Flyers' future?
Where will Jaromir Jagr be next season? Possibly in Philadelphia again, although that’s not guaranteed. The 40-year-old winger, who signed a one-year, $3.3 million deal with the Flyers last summer, had a blast in Philly this season. He’s UFA July 1. His agent, Petr Svoboda, has been in touch with the Flyers.
"We’ve talked, I think there’s mutual interest there, so we’ll see," Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told ESPN.com Monday.
Because of "tagging" space issues on the cap -- CBA lingo for having the maximum allowable under the cap for next season -- the Flyers wouldn’t be able to sign Jagr at the moment. They would have to wait until July 1, when the cap is expected to go up to around $70 million.
"But there’s interest from both sides," said Holmgren. "So we’ll see how it goes."
Weber in Predators' future?
Predators captain and Norris Trophy nominee Shea Weber becomes a restricted free agent July 1. At this point, there’s nothing going regarding a new contract.
"Nothing to report, no conversations, no talks yet," Weber’s agent, Kevin Epp told ESPN.com Monday.
Weber is on the back burner until that situation is resolved. Suter's agent, Neil Sheehy, via email Monday said there was nothing new on that front.
It’ll be interesting to see how Weber reacts depending on what Suter does. Would Weber want to sign long-term if Suter leaves? Can the Preds afford to keep Weber around another season if he doesn’t want to sign a long-term extension? I just don’t see how they can. If Weber doesn’t sign long-term, surely the Preds have to shop him this summer. Either Suter and Weber both sign extensions to stay in Nashville or they’re both gone this summer. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between, in my mind.