The Florida Panthers have all the pieces to book a spot in the Stanley Cup dance, but the one position holding them back is goaltending.
As of right now, the Florida Panthers currently sit at the bottom of the standings, and they’re so far bottom that they can’t get any worse.
To say the season started slow is an understatement, to say the least, but one of the glaring issues clouding the Panthers’ confidence is goaltending. This particular issue has been at the mainframe for years now and doesn’t look like it’s going to progress.
GM Dale Tallon addressed some major needs this offseason. He checked off the need of acquiring a top-six scorer in Mike Hoffman. He went out and signed defensive-defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich from overseas. And, he outright replaced third-stringer Harri Sateri with former AHL All-Star Michael Hutchinson.
While the first two aforementioned needs desperately needed addressing, it’s clear that Tallon quickly band-aided the goaltending concern at best, patching up a few holes on a ship that’s about to sink.
It’s great that Dale found a replacement for Sateri right away, but if we’ve seen enough to make a fair judgment on Michael Hutchinson, it’s clear that he isn’t anywhere close to becoming a starting netminder in the NHL.
The same applies to James Reimer, who’s shown great signs of inconsistency throughout the last stretch of games. Both Reimer and Hutchinson aren’t the answer, but who is?
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While many would turn to Roberto Luongo as our savior at this moment, the soon-to-be 40-year-old goaltender just can’t avoid the injury bug. And even if he could, would it be fair to rest all hope on one of the oldest players in the league?
There’s only so far he can take us, and if we (as a franchise) have learned anything, it’s that resting hope on a netminder who’s soon to retire just isn’t the way to go. But now that we’ve ruled our best three options out, it’s time to look at other options.
Goaltending prospect Sam Montembeault is looking great in Springfield, but he’s still too young and raw to officially take the reigns from Luongo. With limited options in the pipelines, the Panthers need to address their goaltending concerns by taking a look at the trade market.
The first name who comes to mind is Sergei Bobrovsky from the Columbus Blue Jackets. At 30-years-old and with a year left on his current contract, it’s been rumored that the Blue Jackets are looking to ship him out to get some return on a player they likely won’t re-sign.
The cost for him isn’t going to be pretty, but in order to get in this league, you’re going to have to give up. And if the Panthers are serious about jumping the hurdle and getting into the playoffs, then this is what it’s going to take.
Because the Avs recently acquired and signed Philipp Grubauer to a three-year contract, it’s clear that Varlamov isn’t in the future plans of the Colorado Avalanche and will be on his way out by July 1st latest.
These two options would serve as perfect replacements for Roberto Luongo, giving the Panthers adequate goaltending to get them in the playoffs and on a deep run. They’re also young enough to give the Cats a three-four year period, with a chance to compete for Lord Stanley.
At this point, there aren’t enough options internally to currently look at. And the only way to address this concern is by looking at targets on the trade market. This issue cannot be dealt with at a later time, and if it’s pushed out any longer it could very well decide the Panthers’ fate.