The Florida Panthers have made a bit of news lately, with their attempt to gain some goaltending depth as we approach the beginning of training camps across the league. The Cats reportedly have training camp invites out to the likes of Tim Thomas and Ilya Bryzgalov.
Make no mistake about it, Jacob Markstrom is the starting goaltender for the Panthers at the moment. They signed him to a two-year bridge contract after his first full year in the league, giving him an opportunity to prove that he’s the club’s starter for the future.
However, while giving a young netminder like Markstrom is all well and good, he’s still a relatively unknown quantity. In the event that he falters and is unable to hold onto the starting gig, or he ends up injured, the Panthers are without a contingency behind him, outside of career backup Scott Clemmensen.
Neither Thomas or Bryzgalov have garnered a ton of interest this summer. Thomas didn’t play anywhere last season, while Bryzgalov was bought out of his contract after a couple of rough years in Philly, where he was never able to put it together in order to maintain his seat.
There was some talk about Brzygalov perhaps going to Russia, but that doesn’t appear to be the case right now. Both have qualities that make them attractive options as guys who can split time, or come in as a no. 2. However, each has been noted to have a certain degree of character concerns in the last couple of years as well.
Nonetheless, the Panthers are very smart to be looking at bringing in one of them. They’re in a bit of a rebuild, but likely still planning on contending. If they’re hoping to do so, having a legitimate option as a no. 2 goaltender, rather than Clemmensen, would certainly help their cause.