Panthers GM: Markstrom’s the man

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The Florida Panthers have a new number one goalie, and his name is Jacob Markstrom.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in the young man and he’s got a lot of confidence in his abilities,” general manager Dale Tallon said today. “He’s big and strong. We were hoping to hold off a little bit, but let’s go. Let’s see if he can do it, and I’m very confident that he can.”

Markstrom has been waiting in the wings of the organization for quite some time now. The tall 23-year-old Swede was drafted 31st overall in 2008 and has spent the better parts of three seasons in the AHL, with the odd NHL appearance mixed in.

Now, with the injury to Jose Theodore, combined with the struggles of Scott Clemmensen, Markstrom’s chance to prove himself at hockey’s top level has come.

Markstrom has already started two games for the Panthers this season — at Pittsburgh on Feb. 22 (3-1 loss) and versus Boston (4-1 loss) two days later — stopping 65 of 71 shots for a respectable .915 save percentage.

“I’ve been feeling like I’m ready a long time,” said Markstrom. “Just working hard down there in San Antonio, and now I’m here. I’m just excited to be here.”

It’s worth noting that Markstrom has often been the answer to the question, “Why don’t the Panthers trade for Roberto Luongo?”

Now the young goalie will get his chance to show Tallon was right to drive a hard bargain with the Canucks.