For the past two summers, rumors swirled around the Florida Panthers concerning their interest in Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. For the past two summers, the Panthers never made a move. The reason? 23 year-old goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom was the organization’s top prospect for years before getting thrown into the starting job last season when Jose Theodore’s season was ended by injury. GM Dale Tallon has been Markstrom’s biggest fan and has made it clear he wants to stick by him.
It hasn’t been easy for him so far as a pro. Last season after a particularly brutal 7-1 loss to Washington, Markstrom was called out by coach Kevin Dineen. Last year’s Panthers were the worst team in the league so you can hang many of the troubles he had on that.
Two seasons ago when he got his first real taste of NHL action, he did well, stats-wise, in seven games. While he went just 2-4-1 he put up a .925 save percentage and a 2.66 goals-against average. The former number will put you in the top-ten amongst goalies most seasons.
The question the Panthers have to ask themselves here is: Which guy is the real Markstrom? The kid from two seasons showed a lot of the reasons why they’ve stayed out of the Luongo fray.
If he turns out to be more like the player we saw last season, however, perhaps Tallon might want to keep Mike Gillis’ phone number handy just in case.