The Pittsburgh Penguins kicked off their 2009 trade season Saturday by acquiring Edmonton goaltender Mathieu Garon in exchange for goalie Dany Sabourin, forward Ryan Stone and a fourth round pick in 2011.
Analysis: A friend of mine called me and said, "What am I supposed to think of this trade?"
I thought about it for a few seconds, then a few more, then a few more. Eventually, I came up with two possible answers: First, that Marc-Andre Fleury is hurt again. But a strong 3-1 win over Anaheim Friday makes that unlikely.
The second, and more plausible answer, is that management/coaching is not happy with Fleury's performance - nor should they be - so they're bringing in Garon to push Fleury to perform better. Garon (6-8-0, 3.17 GAA, .890 pct) fared well a year ago in a rotation with Dwayne Roloson but his numbers this year have been rather poor. Maybe that's a product of the defense in front of him. I don't see the Oilers enough to judge.
Sabourin (6-8-2, 2.85, .898) was an effective backup, capable of a strong spot start here and there. He's not a starter. He did very well initially in place of Fleury earlier this season, but as he got more starts, he gave up more goals. He won't push Fleury for the No. 1 job.
But I'm not sure Garon will do that either. Nor am I sure that's the right message management wants to be sending to their $5 million goalie. If it lights a fire under Fleury and he becomes a shutdown goalie again, then it'll do the trick. Maybe Garon becomes Ty Conklin 2.0. Conklin almost singlehandedly saved the Pens' season a year ago when Fleury was injured. But it won't be a good sign if Garon supplants Fleury in between the pipes.
Stone was a formerly promising power forward type but had several rather underwhelming training camps and played his way out of the team's long-term plans. His loss is no big deal.
Giving up a draft pick is a bit of a headscratcher too. This team needs to add to its depth, not keep trading away picks.
This deal came out of nowhere. Of all the things the Penguins need - and that list is long - I didn't think a backup goalie was a high priority.
Earlier this month, Atlanta traded Jason Williams to Columbus and Los Angeles shipped Jason LaBarbera to Vancouver. So who's next?