Sports generally emulate life in that you can rarely count on a “sure thing.” The Florida Panthers have been grooming an undeniably promising goalie prospect in Jacob Markstrom, but turning potential into production is often as much about luck as it is hard work.
In Markstrom’s case, the biggest hurdle might be health. The talented netminder underwent knee surgery last season and George Richards reports that he’ll go under the knife for that same problematic knee on Wednesday.
On the bright side, the Panthers indicate that it will be a minor procedure. It’s not a great sign to see a 21-year-old player undergo two knee-related procedures in as many years, but hopefully it’s just a speed bump in his development.
If nothing else, the Panthers are strangely accustomed to their goalies having knee issues. Scott Clemmensen reportedly underwent a similar surgery on his knee going into this season while Jose Theodore is struggling with a knee injury of his own right now.
Those injuries have placed Clemmensen in the top spot for the time being and the report indicates that Markstrom might even play again this season. The Panthers keep scrapping a very nice season together, so it wouldn’t be shocking to watch them continue to bend but not break – kind of like a good knee, actually.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.