I’m not talking about that Keanu Reeves movie where the substitute football players fill in after the strike (keep this vision in mind NFL). I am, rather, tossing around the possibility of the Panthers not signing Tomas Vokoun to a new contract. There is a decent chance he will be back in South Florida, the firing of Peter Deboer is a major reason he may stay. Several other factors are in play here as well, but this post deals with who the Panthers should replace him with if they
have are forced to let him go.
There have been plenty of Vokoun rumors. The big rumor out was that he was headed to the KHL, but now to show how much I despise rumors, there are many claiming that Vokoun and the Panthers are working out a deal. If they don’t sign Vokoun, there are tons of possibilities, so to make this concise lets start examining some available free agent netminders.
Why would the Panthers pick Theodore? Because it wouldn’t be for long as Jacob Markstrom is the future. More on Markstrom later. Theodore is a great goaltender. If you think he is too old, you haven’t been watching what 41 year old Dwayne Roloson has been up to for the Lightning. If Tampa Bay can win game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston, Roloson would tie the consecutive win record for the playoffs. Theodore took home the Vezina and the Hart in 2001-02, but has since struggled to find a team willing to give him the starting role. The Minnesota Wild used him as a backup to Backstrom, so it might be lucrative for him to move somewhere he can start. Check out this highlight: Jose Theodore- Great glove save on Hossa
Same deal as Theodore, the Panthers would sign Hedberg for a year until Markstrom is ready. Martin Brodeur is still able to be competitive at 39 (see Roloson above). This said, I see the Devils offering Hedberg a contract so that they have solid goaltending should Brodeur go down with injury or under-preform. At 38 himself, 4 years older than both Theodore or Vokoun, consider GM Dale Tallon picking him up a long shot. A highlight from earlier in his career: Hedberg Penalty Shot Save
What about Goaltenders the Panthers already have?
Clemmensen deserves more credit for the work he has done. His numbers, however, don’t match what Tallon is looking for in starting goaltender. Tallon wants the best possible goaltender he can get. Its not that Clemmensen doesn’t have great numbers, its the inconsistancy of his play that has kept him from earning the starting job. Maybe he would preform well as a starter and thats why he doesn’t do well as a backup. The role of backup goaltender has been called the toughest position in hockey. For instance, when he was given the chance to start for the Devils when Broduer went down with injury he posted a phenomenal 2.39 goals against average. Two years later for the Panthers his preformance was just mediocre with 8 wins and 11 losses. Much of this can be attributed to porous defense and embarrassing goal support. It is a big risk, but if Clemmensen starts he has the potential to be awesome.
I hope everyone will remember Markstrom’s debut in New Jersey, because that is the worst he will ever look in the NHL. The whole team was off that afternoon. Deboer pulled Clemmensen to try to inspire the team to play better, and Markstrom was backing up due to an injury to Vokoun. Allowing 3 goals on 15 shots Markstrom was able to finish the last two periods for the Panthers. Markstrom did not have a great year for Rochester, 16-20 with a 2.98 GAA. Some of this can be attributed to a knee problem he developed, Markstrom had sucessful surgery on his knee in March and is expected to be ready for training camp.
The best option for the Panthers is to sign Tomas Vokoun to a one year contract.