Goaltending is always a tricky category to figure out because a lot of goalies go through slumps and, to be kind, less than consistent patches. Both Roberto Luongo and Dwayne Roloson have been inconsistent in October, while Craig Anderson’s been struggling with a weak defensive group in front. Steve Mason, currently at 0-7-1, is almost at zero confidence.
So what to do? Are there any gambles worth taking or should you hold out for better, sunnier days?
There are some depth considerations to make and, as always, there are a few gambles on the market worth taking a glance at. Once such gamble is Jacob Markstrom.
The Swedish phenom could be making his second start of the season for the Florida Panthers tonight when they face off against the Montreal Canadiens. He has seen ice time in two games thus far and has stopped 47 out of 49 shots.
Markstrom, who has the confidence Mason is looking for, shut down a roaring New York Islanders team on Saturday night. He’ll challenge Jose Theodore for the starting post soon enough and coach Kevin Dineen is quite high on him. “This kid can play,” he said. “He really put an exclamation point on that [Saturday].”
Markstrom, 21, is playing for a team that suddenly seems to want to win. The Panthers, in the middle of the overhaul that included the trade with Vancouver on Saturday, is looking for cohesion and for players that are ready to bring it. Markstrom certainly fits the bill and has already proven that he can step into a situation and win.
Markstrom has represented Sweden three times in junior tournaments, helping the club to a fourth place finish at the U18 Championships in 2008. After that, he made the World Junior Championships and lead all goalies with a save percentage of 94.6 percent. His club took home a silver and he won the IIHF Best Player Award at the goalie position in 2009.
At 6’4 or 6’6, depending on who you ask, Markstrom is a tall goalie. Scouting reports say that he is cool under pressure and plays butterfly with a good glove hand. The knock on him is largely in the area of rebound control, but a little practice has been improving that.
Obviously signing up with a player like Markstrom at this point is a gamble, but with Florida’s overhaul in full gear and the team’s confidence in the Swedish phenom at a high right now, the timing might not be so bad to take a risk.