Tomas Vokoun: Will He Be Back or Not?

With the Florida Panthers starting to color correct their marketing schemes and sign young prospects the question that still hangs in the balance is what to do about goaltending next season.

Vokoun, entering into Free Agency, has been one of the best goalies over the last dozen years. He’s in the top 10 in many goaltending categories, including saves and save percentage, but you would never know it because the team in front of him has had just as much trouble putting pucks in the net as those trying to score against him.

In around 670 career games Vokoun holds a .921% save percentage and hasn’t gone below .919% since 2004 with the Predators. Yet, despite the  illustrious numbers, his record over the last few season has been far from steller. Most of this is due to the team around him, they have failed to help him score goals…and that’s the one thing he can’t do himself.  Vokoun is however entirely capable of playing at an elite level and help his Panthers climb the ranks in the Eastern Conference.

More After the Jump

One thing that seems to be floated quite a bit among Florida Panthers fans is the differences between Tomas Vokoun and former Panthers superstar Roberto Luongo now playing for a Stanley Cup. It seems that most people feel that Vokoun is less of a goal tender and that the Panthers would be playing better with Luongo. I disagree however and would like to take a moment to explore the subject. Vokoun is one of the best goaltenders in the league since the lockout.

SV% Leaders Since Lockout

Player GP SA SV SV% SO SA/60
1 T. Vokoun 288 9184 8473 .923 26 32.74
2 N. Backstrom 220 6069 5576 .919 19 28.75
3 R. Luongo 334 9784 8977 .918 28 30.26
4 T. Thomas 254 7750 7115 .918 16 31.68
6 M. Brodeur 321 8869 8127 .916 33 27.83
7 R. Miller 302 8924 8171 .916 16 30.09
10 M. Kiprusoff 359 10066 9201 .914 27 28.62

This is while playing behind some of the worst defenses in terms of shots against over the course of the last few seasons.

Of course the Panthers have one of the best prospects at the goaltending position in the NHL in Jacob Markstrom. In 2007 Markstrom played all six games for the Swedish U18 national team at the WJC tournament. Sweden finished the tournament in fourth place with Markstrom winning four games and losing twice with a 3.04 GAA and .863 save percentage. Markstrom was voted a top-three player on the team by the Swedish coaches. Then in 2008 though still just eighteen when the season started, Markstrom was the full-time starter for Brynäs of the SE. In 35 regular season games, he posted a 2.38 GAA and .917 save percentage with three shutouts. He started five games for Team Sweden at the U20 WJC and was 4-1 with one shutout and had a 1.61 GAA and .943 save percentage as the team captured a silver medal.

But most would agree that Markstrom is on hold for the moment as he develops in the AHL and the Panther will need to sign a goalie to play this season regardless…

Assist. GM Mike Santos told the Miami Herald ..”We’re going to try to do the best we can at the goaltender position,” Santos said. “At the end of the day, it could be Tomas Vokoun. That would be terrific. He’s a guy we know. But we’re going to get the best goalie we can. And it may just be him…We haven’t spoken in a few weeks, maybe even a month. And that meeting was nothing real involved, just a general discussion. And none of us talked about July 1. If we were going to do something, it would be before July 1, though. You never know. It wouldn’t be a long term deal, no longer than three.’

Hopefully they will look into bringing him back especially with teams like Philly already filling their goaltending holes.

My point is this…Vokoun is one of the best players in world. At 35 years of age, Vokoun is entering a stage in his career where his skills will start to fall off. Unfortunately he’s had a good career in bad hockey markets. I hope that the Panther try to resign him and let him lead us to victory, but as the Panthers try to get younger, there’s a chance Vokoun will be dealt to another club during off season or allowed to walk away and sign as a FA, possibly giving him a chance win a Stanley Cup near the twilight of his career. If that’s the case, Vokoun will definitely make the most of it

Do you think the Panthers should resign Vokoun?

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Tags: Free Agents Tomas Vokoun

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