Signing Tim Thomas gives the Florida Panthers something of a three-headed monster in net, although one wouldn’t confuse this with the St. Louis Blues’ situation, which seems like an embarrassment of riches by comparison.
Regardless, the Panthers organization will need to decide if they’d rather pair Scott Clemmensen or Jacob Markstrom with their new 39-year-old goalie. (Thomas is likely to be the starter, barring a meltdown.)
The answer, for at least a little while, could be “a little of both.”
Markstrom, 23, can be sent to the minors without being placed on waivers in 2013-14 thanks to the first year of his deal being two-way.
Clemmensen, 36, might still be rehabbing from surgery by the time the regular season starts, so that could give Markstrom extra time to show that he deserves to stay at the NHL level full-time.
Clemmensen is on a one-way deal so another team can claim him if he’s sent long-term. Considering his $1.3 million salary (and $1.2 million cap hit), the Panthers might not be so sad about someone scooping him up, really.
Neither of the two goalies put up dynamite numbers in 2013, although it’s obvious the Panthers expect big things from Markstrom … eventually.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon discussed both netminders following the Thomas announcement. He told the Miami Herald’s George Richards that:
1. He hasn’t “thought about” sending Clemmensen down to the AHL. It’s worth noting that they could do so for a short time on a rehab stint, anyway.
2. Tallon told Richards that he knows Markstrom is talented but still believes the Thomas addition is “good for the organization.”
One could point to warts for all three of these goalies, yet the Panthers were wise to give themselves more options for this coming season. It will probably force Tallon & Co. to make a tough choice or two, though.