With Roberto Luongo’s constant health issues, the Florida Panthers need to look to acquire a new goaltender, as they have no clear answer in their organization.
This season, the 30-year-old James Reimer has posted up a 5-6-3 record with a .893 SV% and a 3.36 GAA after starting in 13, and playing in 17, of the Florida Panthers’ 26 games this season.
Those are awful numbers for a supposed starting netminder, especially one who is turning 31 in March and is headed into decline. With these issues in Reimer’s game surfacing, the Panthers need to seek goaltending help from options outside the organization.
One of those options could be pending UFA Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets. With the Jackets already having 24-year-old standout Joonas Korpisalo, Bobrovsky suddenly becomes expendable, as he’s looking for a pay raise this July.
In 17 starts, Sergei Bobrovsky is currently 10-9-0 with a .901 SV% and a 3.04 goals against average. Bobrovsky, who is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2012-13, 2016-17), has been amongst the elite goaltenders in the league for years, and would be a vast improvement for the Florida Panthers over a guy like James Reimer.
If the Blue Jackets fall out of a playoff spot before the trade deadline, Bobrovsky would be the most likely option for the Cats as they can just dump off a pick (likely first round) and a mid-level prospect to have him for the remaining year on his contract, then look to ink him to a long term deal this coming offseason.
Another impending free agent the Panthers could look to acquire is Colorado Avalanche Semyon Varlamov. The 30-year-old Varlamov has played out of his mind lately, starting in 19 of Colorado’s games and posting up a 10-6-3 record, a .923 SV%, and a 2.43 GAA.
With 27-year-old backup Philipp Grubauer also putting up great numbers – after being acquired from the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals this offseason – Varlamov could become expendable, especially if his asking price is more than what the Avs are willing to pay him, so this presents the perfect opportunity for the Panthers to pounce to lock him up to a sizeable deal.
Both of these options provide less of a risk as far as parting ways with assets to acquire them, but with both of them being 30 years of age, it doesn’t help the Florida Panthers long term, whose *recent* starting netminder was 30-year-old James Reimer.
If the Cats want to find a replacement who can serve not only in the present, but in the near future from now, there is one option that could help them with that problem.
After the Nashville Predators signed Pekka Rinne to a two-year contract extension last month, 23-year-old backup Juuse Saros has suddenly lost his role as future starter for the organization within the next three seasons.
Saros, who’s already shown signs of promise as a starting goaltender, could likely be moved so he could get that opportunity, which means that Dale Tallon should get the phones going on bringing his services down south.
Sure, the asking price will be steep, likely including a guy like Owen Tippett, potentially a third-fourth round draft choice, and possibly the Panthers’ current best goaltender prospect Samuel Montembeault, but the price is totally worth it.
Saros, who’s already in his third season in the league, has been struggling as of late, only putting up a 7-4-0 record with a .891 SV% and a 3.29 GAA.
Ideally, it’s hard for a guy to stay in rhythm when he doesn’t get to play too often, as he serves as a backup for an elite goaltender like Pekka Rinne. However, with an actual starting role in place, Saros could strive in South Florida.
With the future in goal looking uncertain for the Florida Panthers, Dale Tallon needs to start picking up the phones and finding an answer between the pipes, because looking at a guy like Juuse Saros is definitely worth a shot.