Penguins trade Sabourin to Oilers for backup goalie Garon
Sunday, January 18, 2009
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Following through on his promise not to make a trade simply because his team is struggling but only if he saw a way to improve the Penguins, general manager Ray Shero yesterday struck a deal with Edmonton.
It was not a blockbuster designed to shake up a team that is 11-16-2 since a six-game winning streak the first half of November, 3-8 in its past 11 games and 2-6 in its past eight home games going into a matinee today against the New York Rangers.
This was a trade that had a lot to do with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury -- as much of an untouchable as there is on the roster-- was not moved or demoted. Rather, Mathieu Garon was brought in from Edmonton to upgrade the team's goaltending and perhaps push Fleury some.
"At 31, I think Garon is seen as a goalie that still has upside to his game, and maybe a more veteran presence with Marc might be good," Shero said after he sent goaltender Dany Sabourin, minor-league forward Ryan Stone and a fourth-round draft pick in 2011 to the Oilers for Garon.
"That's what happened last season," Shero said of 2007-08, when veteran journeyman Ty Conklin gave the Penguins a strong, 18-8-5 performance, primarily during Fleury's absence because of a high ankle sprain. Fleury watched how Conklin handled being the No. 1 goaltender, how he stick-handled, how he sparked at least some debate on whether Fleury should be handed back the starting job -- and it pushed Fleury to have a strong stretch drive and help the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup final.
Earlier in his Penguins career, Fleury got guidance from veteran backup Jocelyn Thibault.
Sabourin, 28, has been Fleury's road roommate and more of a buddy -- "It's always tough to lose a friend like that," Fleury said -- but Garon could represent more competition.
"He's somebody with experience," said Fleury, who has met Garon only in passing. "I think I can learn from him."
This season, after signing a seven-year, $35 million contract, Fleury, 24 and the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft, started 11-5-2. He has slipped to 14-11-2 with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage -- and the latter two numbers have improved some as he went 2-1 in his past two games, including the 3-1 win Friday against Anaheim.
As one of three goaltenders in Edmonton, Garon was expendable.
He won a career-best 31 games with Los Angeles in 2005-06 and was the Oilers' starter last season, going 26-18-1 with a 2.66 goals-against average, before losing the No. 1 job to Dwayne Roloson. This season, he was 6-8-0 and had a 3.17 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
After going 14 games without a start and one 40-minute relief appearance, Garon was in net Friday night, making 37 saves in a 3-2 win against Colorado.
"We need a little bit more experience with our goaltending," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who coached Garon in limited stretches in Montreal when Garon was breaking into the NHL early this decade. "A guy like Garon has been in the league for a while and has been a No. 1 goalie in the past. I think it's going to be a good fit with Fleury. Marc-Andre is still our guy, but we want to make sure he's going to be well-surrounded."
Therrien added that between Fleury and Garon, "performance will dictate the ice time."
Garon, like Sabourin, is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer. Garon makes $1 million this season, Sabourin, $525,000.
"It's never good to leave your teammates and a city that you like, but, at the same time, it's going to be good for me because I'll have a chance to play more than I did," Garon told the Edmonton Journal. "I knew from training camp something was going to happen, but I didn't know when or where or who."
While Fleury was out for about a month with a groin injury, Sabourin started off strong stepping in but recently faltered. He is 6-8-2 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.
"One of the problems we identified was our goaltending needs to be better," Shero said. "Dany Sabourin is a good goaltender and a nice guy, but we need to be a little better if possible."
Sabourin might not report to the Oilers until after the All-Star break next weekend and could be moved again because of the Oilers' three-goaltender situation.
Stone, a second-round draft pick in 2003, has played in eight NHL games, two this season. The Penguins earlier this season placed him on waivers, but there were no takers.
"This gives Ryan Stone a new opportunity somewhere else, which is something I was trying to do," Shero said.http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09018/942663-61.stm