With free agency just around the corner, there are a few major holes that the Penguins need to fill, but none more pressing than goaltending.
GM Ray Shero recently made it know that the team was no longer pursuing or bringing back last year's back up Jocelyn Thibault; Nolan Schaefer, who was acquired at the trade deadline and shined in the AHL; goaltending prospect Bobby Geopfert; or Andrew Penner, who split time between Wilkes-Barre and Wheeling last year. This puts the team in a bit of an interesting situation, as the only goaltender they have under contract for next season is starter Marc-Andre Fleury. Goaltending prospect David Brown is expected to sign an entry-level contract soon and be the starter in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton next season.
The only other two goaltenders in the system right now are Patrick Ehelechner, who has spent the last few seasons in Germany; and Chad Johnson, who will be a junior next year at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
The Penguins need to sign formidable back-up goaltenders for both the NHL and the AHL. Brown recently finished his playing career at Notre Dame, but does not have any professional playing experience.
Just because the Penguins did not make any offers to Thibault or Schaefer, it does not mean they will not be with the team when September rolls around. Thibault will be looking to land a starting job, but if no teams are interested, he would more than likely love to return to Pittsburgh as the backup.
The list of available goaltenders includes Florida's Alex Auld ($1.475 million last season), Buffalo's Ty Conklin ($525,000 last season), Toronto's JS Aubin ($525,000 last season), Columbus' Brian Boucher ($475,000 last season), Vancouver's Dany Sabourin ($450,000 last season), and Calgary's Jamie McLennan ($575,000 last season).
Stay-up-to-date with the Penguins' free agency signings at http://www.penguinsbuzz.com