Panthers could trade Tomas Vokoun and go with a younger player or two.
The Panthers are in a pretty good position when it comes to having quality goaltenders in its organization.
Whether its All-Star Tomas Vokoun and backup Scott Clemmensen in the NHL, or minor-leaguers Tyler Plante and Alexander Salak with the AHL Americans, general manager Randy Sexton knows his team is deep in net.
And with Jacob Markstrom and Marc Cheverie on the way up, there isn’t room for everyone.
The Panthers are expected to shop Vokoun and the one year remaining on his contract this offseason. Even if Vokoun, who has a no-movement clause in the contract he signed with Nashville in 2007, is traded, the Panthers still have a numbers problem.
Florida likely will have to make a decision on whether to keep Plante or Salak. With Rochester in the AHL playoffs, their postseason play could make Sexton’s decision for him.
“Every team is the same way, no matter the level, in having guys compete for ice time, spots on the roster,” said Plante, who started for Rochester on Saturday night against Abbotsford, British Columbia, in Game 2 of the best-of-7 first-round series.
“You can’t let it affect your friendship. Hockey is an up-and-down sport, and you have to be there for them and help them out. Good things will come for both of us if you do that.”
Salak, a free agent signed by former general manager Jacques Martin, is in his first professional season and has one year left on his contract. Plante’s deal is up, but if the Panthers decide to tender him, Salak could be traded. Markstrom is expected to start at Rochester next season, but that’s a long offseason away. Plante was called up for the Panthers’ final two games this season after Vokoun sustained a back injury and didn’t play.
“This has been Plante’s best year as a pro,” Sexton said. “We have lots of options, and you need depth in net because it’s such a critical position. We have four very good young goalies, so we’re in a good spot.”
Markstrom, 20, has spent the past three seasons playing professionally in Sweden in a league with comparable — or even better — talent than the AHL.
The Panthers would like to ease Markstrom into the North American system, and the AHL could provide valuable experience.
Plante and Salak have had strong seasons for Rochester. Plante ended the season with a flourish. After missing a big chunk of the season because of a knee injury, Plante took over for Salak in net and set a career high in victories (12), saves (701) and shutouts (three). He was named the AHL’s Goalie of the Month in March.