By now, I think it’s safe to say that most Florida Panthers fans are familiar with the name Jacob Markström. Whether it be for making sensational saves on the ice, dancing during a stoppage of play, or tweeting something hilarious, the 6-foot-6 goaltender from Gävle,Sweden has created quite the buzz in the hockey world ever since his debut.
Markström played 23 games in the highest tier of Swedish junior hockey for Brynäs IF of the J20 SuperElit League before signing a contract with Brynäs IF of the Elitserien, or Swedish Elite League, in May of 2008. During his first stint in the SEL he made 7 appearances and finished with a .888 save percentage, averaging 3.12 goals against per game. Markström’s ability to stop pucks impressed many NHL scouts and the NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranked him as the top European goaltender for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Florida Panthers used their first pick in the draft (31st overall) to select Jacob Markström. They knew that in order to win they needed a reliable goaltender who they could count on to keep pucks from finding the back of the net. Markström returned back home to Gävle for another two seasons with Brynäs IF of the SEL. At 18 years old, he was the number one goaltender for the team now and didn’t disappoint. During the 2008-09 season he played in 35 games for Brynäs IF and saved 91.7% of the pucks that were shot at him. He averaged 2.38 goals per game and had 3 shutouts when the regular season came to a close. When the puck dropped to start the 2009-10 season, Markström picked up right where he left off. Once again he was the starting goalie for Brynäs and posted impressive numbers when the season was over with. In 43 games, Markström allowed a total of 85 pucks to get past him for an average of 2.01 goals against per game. He also improved his save percentage during the season, stopping 92.7% of the pucks shot at him. Also, Markström recorded 5 shutouts over the course of the season which helped him earn the Honken Trophy for being the Swedish Goaltender of the Year in addition to being named the 2009-10 Elitserien Rookie of the Year.
After signing an entry level contract with the Panthers in June of 2010, Markström made the jump across the Atlantic to get a taste of North American ice hockey. He spent the majority of the season in Rochester playing for the Amerks in the American Hockey League. He averaged 2.98 goals against per game and saved 90.7% of shots he faced during his first 37 AHL games. In December of 2010, Markström recorded his first AHL shutout when the Amerks blanked the Toronto Marlies 2-0 in front of the home crowd in Rochester. The following month, Markström travelled to New Jersey with the Florida Panthers when starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun was ailing. At the start of the 2nd period, Scott Clemmensen was pulled and the NHL got its first taste of Jacob Markström. Unfortunately he was handed the loss as the Devils burned the Cats by a final score of 5-2. Markström stopped 12 of the 14 shots he faced during his first 40 minutes of NHL play. He continued to work hard when he was returned to the AHL and was determined to make a good impression during training camp in the fall. When the 2011-12 NHL season started, Markström found himself on the Panthers roster for opening night. With Scott Clemmensen injured, Markström served as the backup goalie for the first part of the season. During his stint with the Panthers he appeared in 5 games with the panthers, picking up 2 wins, 2 losses, and 1 overtime loss. Once Clemmensen was healthy again, Markström joined the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL for the majority of the regular season. He was recalled by the Panthers four more times during the 2011-12 season and appeared in another 2 games for the Panthers. When the regular season ended in April, Markström had logged 7 games with the Panthers (2 wins, 4 losses, 1 overtime loss) and 32 games with the Rampage (17 wins, 12 losses, 1 shootout win, 1 shootout loss). His time in the AHL has definitely helped him improve his game. Markström improved his stats again, finishing last season with a 2.33 GAA and a 0.927 SV%.
It is certain that Markström has quite the future ahead of him with the Florida Panthers. Although he could play in the NHL this season, the Florida Panthers don’t want to rush his development. Currently the Panthers have both Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen locked up with contracts for this upcoming season, so it looks like Markström will be spending another year in the AHL—unless training camp changes things. Regardless of where he ends up playing, there’s no doubt that the 2 time WJC medalist will continue to make some phenomenal saves and cause quite the buzz about the future of the Florida Panthers.
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