On June 21st, 2008 then Florida Panthers GM Jacques Martin made a good decision, one of the few during his tenure with the franchise. He used the 31st pick in the NHL Entry Draft, first of the second-round, which he had acquired in a trade on June 13, 2007 that sent Chris Gratton to Tampa Bay, to select goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom.
Well after some years of development, Jacob Markstrom got his first NHL start earlier this season, and faced 32 shots from Washington Capitals offense, allowing just two goals in what can only be seen as a stellar debut. Markstrom was huge when the Panthers drafted him at 6’3 and he has grown since then to a 6’6 frame that occupies a lot of space in front of the goal. Unlike most bigger goalies however, Markstrom possesses incredible agility, quick lateral movement, and speed as well as solid technical skills. Markstrom has also shown adaptability and has learned well how to cover the sharper angles and smaller size of North American rinks. Originally expected to play another year in the AHL, an injury to goalie Scott Clemmensen has opened the gate for Markstrom to start the year as an NHL backup, and his performance may give him the chance to become an NHL starter.
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.
The Goalie Guild founder, Justin Goldman had this to say in his scouting report of Markstrom:
“From when I last saw Markstrom play, which was in his NHL debut against the Devils on January 23, I can safely say he looked much more improved in all areas of his game. Because of this, I do feel strongly that he deserves the #1 spot in my Top-150 Prospects Rankings.
Not only does Markstrom appear much quieter in the crease, but he’s more situationally aware of plays around him and his footwork is sharper as well; getting from Point-A to Point-B was done with more precision. More importantly, I noticed that his overall posture is making him more efficient in the crease.
As I continued to watch Markstrom play with confidence in this game, I came to the conclusion that he’s not necessarily explosive (few goalies are), but he does have very powerful lateral pushes and recoveries. He generates a lot of energy due to a strong core, yet he still appears light on his toes, as opposed to being completely anchored into the ice and “stuck” on his angles”
Be sure to check out his full scouting report here
So does Markstrom have the chance to make the Florida Panthers roster permanently this season….I would think so.
On Monday night Markstrom stoped 40 of the 41 Montreal shots in the Florida Panthers 2-1 win. That was impressive, what was even more impressive was the style he did it in.
Obviously he is scrambling a little more than he needs to, but his game is looking solid and it will be hard to send him down if it comes to that…
“He’s a little shaky with the rebounds, but that could just be nerves.” said goaltender Mark Winchell “He has to use his size more, and stop those shots up high, if he does, he could become one of the best goalies in the league….his biggest asset is that he is freaking huge!”
The Panthers will need to make a decision on whether to send him down to San Antonio when Scott Clemmensen comes back, or to keep him here and find a solution some other way for the logjam in net.
What do you guys think? Is the future we have been waiting for with Markstrom here now?
Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.
Please visit our NHL main page: Too Many Men On The Site.
Want The Rat Trick or another FanSided network blog on your Iphone, Android or Blackberry? Download the application now on yoursmartphone and get the best in Florida Panthers coverage