The Florida Panthers have reached the point of the season where some players are auditioning for next season. One player fighting for his spot in the future, perhaps more than any other, is goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
The Panthers have long been connected to Roberto Luongo, who still remains in Vancouver. Given the price tag attached to him, both as far as a package and the salary that they’d be taking on, the Panthers would probably prefer it if Markstrom could prevent that from happening.
To this point, it looks like he’s potentially a guy that could be between the Florida pipes for the long term. His numbers on the season aren’t anything to write home about. But look at the team playing in front of him. His performance indicates that he’s been much better than the numbers show.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at those numbers. His save percentage is just a hair under .900, currently sitting at .898. His goals-against average is at 3.33. Again, not too pretty. But 14 of his 19 starts have come against contending teams in the Eastern Conference and he’s faced at least 30 shots in 12 of them. The odds aren’t exactly in his favor.
Markstrom is a restricted free agent this summer. Jose Theodore is an unrestricted free agent. Scott Clemmensen has another year left on his deal after this, but he’s nothing more than a career backup. If the Panthers didn’t add an outside goaltender, one would have to imagine that Markstrom would be brought back as the starter.
But that’s not guarantee. The Panthers will likely take a look at some of the options out there, on the free agent and trade markets alike. Luongo is an option, as is Jonathan Bernier. But at just 23, you’d have to imagine that Markstrom has made at least something of a case for himself to be given a shot next season.