Penguins sign Zatkoff to new 2-year contract
By Josh Yohe
Published: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, 11:39 a.m.
Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff's recent strong play hasn't gone unnoticed by his employer.
The Penguins awarded the 26-year-old rookie with a two-year, $1.2 million contract Saturday.
Although it remains to be seen if the Penguins will have the services of goaltender Tomas Vokoun later this season — he has been out since September after surgery to remove a blood clot — and the organization certainly could acquire a veteran backup before the postseason begins, Zatkoff is now officially in their long-term plans.
He will make $600,000 per season in what is a one-way deal.
“It's a great organization,” Zatkoff said. “I'm happy to be a part of it for the next couple of years.”
The Penguins seem happy to have Zatkoff around for the next couple of years, too.
While he doesn't necessarily project as an every-day, NHL starting goaltender, Zatkoff has done solid work as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup. With Fleury's contract up following the 2014-15 season and Vokoun's status unknown — and given the Penguins do not possess a wealth of top-notch goaltending prospects in their system — locking up Zatkoff for a small price was a desire for the team.
“He just didn't have any NHL experience,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “He's a guy who we believed could go in there and be a good backstop. He's been that.”
Bylsma referenced Zatkoff's rough NHL outing against Florida, but suggested the Penguins were willing to be patient with him.
It has paid off.
Zatkoff is 6-2 with a 2.46 goals against average.
The last thing the Penguins need is an injury to one of their defensemen. It almost happened Saturday against the Calgary Flames. Twice.
Defensemen Matt Niskanen and Olli Maatta — the tandem is currently being used as the Penguins' top defense pairing with five regulars out of the lineup — both missed about seven minutes of ice time because of separate injuries.
Niskanen left the game after being hit into the Penguins' bench. He returned later in the second period.
Maatta blocked a shot with his hand in the second period but returned for the start of the third.
Despite the missed time, Niskanen played a team-high 22:58 while Maatta played 20:21.
“I got knocked into an open door,” Niskanen said. “I got dinged there for a little bit, but it's OK. Nothing serious.”
Calgary's Curtis Glencross sustained an injury on his first shift of the game and did not return.
Geno to sit in Ottawa?
Center Evgeni Malkin has not played since sustaining in injury to his left leg Dec. 14 in Detroit, and the Penguins will quite possibly hold him out of the lineup until following the holiday break.
They play Monday in Ottawa but then don't play again until Friday in Raleigh against the Hurricanes.
“Considering the time period,” Bylsma said, “and Ottawa being the Monday game, there will be consideration given to the fact.”
Malkin did skate Saturday morning, and the session was more intense than when he skated on Friday.
Niskanen's goal late in the second period was originally awarded to right wing James Neal. However, following the game, it was changed to Niskanen, who now has goals in consecutive games and three this season.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Orpik: Penguins must keep their cool
- Penguins’ Bylsma wants Cup version of Letang
- Rossi: Pens sticking to power-play plan
- Kovacevic: Take a second to celebrate Sid
- Undersized rookie Gibbons is blur on ice for Penguins