Pens eye upgrade over Johnson
Could the Penguins biggest move at the deadline be adding a backup goaltender?
While Brent Johnson keeps suddenly popping up with a so-called illness or injury, the team is actively looking for an upgrade over the struggling Johnson who some in the organization are said to feel is “finished” as an quality NHL backup.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, confirms the Penguins are poking around for an upgrade at the backup goaltender position. “The Pittsburgh Penguins are poking around for an upgrade to backup goalie Brent Johnson, ” LeBrun reports. “Among the names on their list is Minnesota Wild backup Josh Harding, who is slated for unrestricted free agency July 1.
Harding, 27, is 9-9-3 with 2.59 goals against average and .919 save percentage. He carries just a $750,000 cap hit which would fit into the Penguins cap situation. Just two months ago, the asking price was high for Harding but that’s not the case anymore, and there isn’t a big market for Harding. Niklas Backstrom entrenched as the team’s starter and the Wild have up and coming 21 year old Matt Hackett. Harding has been sidelined with a lower body injury, believed to be a groin injury.
Meanwhile, two other names to surface this afternoon that the Penguins have looked into or discussed internally: Winnipeg’s Chris Mason and Blue Jackets backup Curtis Sanford.
Mason, 35, is 7-6-0 with a 2.30 goals against average and .910 save percentage. He is an unrestricted free agent, carrying a steep cap hit of $1.850 million. The Jets are willing to move him and get something for the 35 year old. A source believed if this was the direction Pittsburgh went, it wouldn’t happen until right at the deadline as the Penguins prefer not to take a big cap hit for a backup goaltender. Pittsburgh likes him but the cap hit might not be a fit. Considered highly unlikely to happen.
Sanford, 32, is 10-13-4 with a 2.52 goals against average and .915 save percentage. The Penguins looked into Sanford during the summer of 2009 when they were in the market for a backup goaltender. Sanford carries just a $600,000 cap hit and has good numbers in front of a poor defensive Columbus team. Sanford though hasn’t started since Feb 9 and was just activated off IR on Feb 22.