The Florida Panthers have always struggled to find the right goaltender. After years of searching and countless tryouts, it seems they are heading in the right direction. They have been close before, but they either weren’t patient enough or unable to draw the best out of the player. Since 2010, the Panthers have had 11 different goalies play at least ten games for the, in Sunrise, Florida. Yet, with the turn of the decade, it seems that the Florida Panthers’ goaltending issues will be a thing of the past.
Panthers Goaltending Issues
The closest the Panthers have been to a franchise goal has to be Roberto Luongo. With five consecutive seasons of over a .914 save percentage, along with a two twin Vezina finalist. Yet, they still found a way to trade him to the Vancouver Canucks. Luckily he came back. Then there was also John Vanbiesbrouck from back in the day. A fan favourite and good goaltender, either way, they couldn’t keep him around.
Up until this season, the closest thing the Panthers had to a truly game-changing netminder was Jacob Markstrom. Drafted 31st overall in the 2008 draft, Markstrom was looking like the real deal. In 43 games played, Markstrom struggled and his surrounding cast did not make things any better. Eventually, he was traded to Vancouver as well. While the past has not been anything to brag about, the present and future look very bright.
Luongo has managed to lay the foundation for his successor. Third, in all-time NHL wins and the first Panther player to have his number retired. Luongo has managed to leave behind a legacy that the next generation will be looking to chase. With the signing of Sergei Bobrovsky, it seemed that the Panthers goalie woes would end. Unfortunately, he has not lived up to his massive contract.
With the Panthers being one of the most inconsistent teams in the league, it is hard to say Bob is at fault. With 244 goals against, that left the Panthers tied for fifth-worst in the league. As mentioned in a previous article, Bobrovsky’s play this season has been better than most have given him credit for. The Panthers are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Before the break, his record of 23-19-6 with a .900 save percentage still keep the Panthers within three points out of a playoff spot.
With the NHL becoming more of a two goalie system. The unsung hero that has really shocked people has been Chris Driedger. The 25-year old goalie has excellent patience while in the crease. As you watch him, he always seems extremely calm, cool and collected. Through his 12 games with the Cats, Driedger has gone 7-2-1, with a .938 save percentage with a shutout in his first game with the Panthers against Nashville. If the 2019-20 season is to continue, this goalie tandem has the potential to do some real damage as the playoff race heats up.
As we continue to look at the Florida Panthers’ goaltending issues. We must look to the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft, Spencer Knight. The highest-drafted goalie since 2010. Where Jack Campbell was selected by the Dallas Stars 10th overall. Since the moment he was drafted, he’s been considered the Panther’s top prospect and managed to play that way as well.
After an abrupt halt to his freshman season. Knight has been living up to the hype of a 13th overall pick. Playing in 33 games for Boston College, Knight was outstanding. Finishing with a 23-8-2 record with a .931 save percentage, and 1.97 goals-against average. He seemingly has what it takes to be a true number one goalie in the NHL someday.
Not to be forgotten, but Sam Montembeault has shown some real glimpses of NHL potential. Before the break, Monetembeault posted a 5-5-1 record with a .890 save percentage. While his numbers are not great, he has been the success of some very important wins. Monty could be a perfect to back-up Knight when it is his time to shine.
Other Things to Consider
As it seems, the Florida Panthers may no longer have an issue finding the right guy for the job. With great talent now in Bobrovsky and Driedger, if these two could stay healthy they would really help get the Panthers closer to their dreams. Then there are Montembeault and Knight, two young guns who have the potential to help the Panthers down the road as well.
Looking at the Florida Panthers’ goaltending issues down the road; Bobrovsky’s contract will most-likely become an issue. Already 31-years old, who knows how much longer he will play. Then, there is also Philippe Desrosiers, a Panthers prospect playing for their minor league team. Through 29 games, Desrosiers has recorded a .916 save percentage and a 3.05 goals-against average. Showing that he could possibly fight with Montembeault for the backup job down the line. Regardless, the search is seemingly over for the Panthers and they can continue to focus on the defence.
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