After a disappointing 4-7-4 start to the season and an NHL worst -21 goal differential, the Florida Panthers finally decided it was time to shake things up, announcing they had recalled top goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom on Wednesday afternoon.
Markstrom, who has been playing for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage this season, will have the tough task of playing behind a hapless Panthers’ defense that already made incumbent netminders Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen look absolutely horrid. Both starter Jose Theodore (3.37 GAA / .893 SV%) and backup Scott Clemmensen (4.32 GAA / .837) have been shells of their former selves this season as they have been unable to to keep opponents off of the scoreboard during most games.
Although the Panthers’ defense has not made it easy on Theodore and Clemmensen thus far, both goaltenders still looked uneasy even when the defense was playing adequately - allowing soft goals and struggling to control rebounds. In recent weeks the Panthers’ ugly play in net has had fans shouting “We want Markstrom!” via multiple social media outlets, most notably twitter. Well, fans finally got their wish, but only time will tell if it pays off for the club.
Last season, Markstrom played in 7 games for the Panthers and was very impressive – going 2-4-1 with a 2.66 GAA / .923 SV% before being injured. Considering he has already seen some action at the NHL level, I don’t worry too much about Markstrom’s confidence being at risk while playing behind the Panthers’ questionable defense. In fact, I expect Markstrom to relish this opportunity and to do everything he can to remain with the team for the rest of the season.
Luckily for the Panthers, they are getting Markstrom in the midst of a very hot streak for the young netminder. In the AHL, Markstrom has won 8 of his last 12 starts and has given up 2 or goals or fewer in 11 of his last 16 starts.
At 23 years-old and considering he will be an unrestricted free agent next season, this could be the perfect time for the Panthers to judge the value of their future franchise goaltender and a good way to get his feet wet before taking over the job full time. However, if Markstrom does end up remaining with the Panthers for the remainder of the 2013 season, the team will have to figure out what to do with Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it.
- Rookie forward Drew Shore will now wear number 15 for the remainder of the reason rather than 50 which he had been wearing since his call up from San Antonio. Shore’s number switch is just another sign that clearly this kid is here to stay for the remainder of the 2013 season.
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