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Goalie Talk: Is Vokoun Out? If Panthers Really Want to Rebuild, Yes

Vokoun3 The Panthers have one more week remaining in the 2009-10 season. Is this Tomas Vokoun's final week as a member of the Panthers?

Very possibly.

With Vokoun and backup Scott Clemmensen, the Panthers have a solid 1-2 combination. But Vokoun is only signed through next season and not expected back after that as he will command another hefty contract. Florida likes its depth in goal throughout the system, further making Vokoun expendable.

The Panthers have a pair of solid goalies at their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., as Tyler Plante has taken over for Alexander Salak after he sagged following a hot start.

General manager Randy Sexton confirmed Saturday that the team is negotiating with University of Denver goalie Marc Cheverie and could have him signed and in training camp to compete for a spot somewhere within the organization.

Jacob Markstrom, who was the 31st overall pick in the 2008 draft, has spent the past three seasons playing professionally in Sweden and should be under contract sometime this summer and be at training camp when it opens in September.

If the Panthers were to trade Vokoun – and his $5.7 million salary – they could likely bring in another veteran goalie to compete with Clemmensen and Markstrom in training camp. The Panthers would like Markstrom, 20, to start in the AHL next season to help him get used to the North American style of game as well as the travel and heavier workload. Plante, Cheverie and Markstrom were all drafted by the Panthers.

“Our strategy of holding onto our draft picks and investing in scouting is paying off, especially at that position,'' said Sexton. “Goaltending is clearly a source of strength for us. We have maturity with Vokoun and Clemmensen and we have talented young goalies. They are big goalies. I'm a big believer in having big goalies.''

On Saturday, with Clemmensen in net for the third time in the past four games, the Panthers were eliminated from the playoffs.

Team management has said big time changes are coming to the Panthers before next season and Vokoun would draw big time interest from other teams during the offseason – although Vokoun would have to waive his no-trade clause, something he seemed agreeable to at the trading deadline when he was being shopped.

Top end goaltenders like Vokoun don't make it to the free agent market very often, so to pick him up in a trade (and try and sign him to a long term deal) teams would likely be willing to give up quite a bit in return.

Although Vokoun is a known commodity as far as the Panthers go, there is nothing close to a guarantee Florida's youngsters will turn into NHL starters much less a player of Vokoun's pedigree.

Goalies traditionally take a long time to develop, with Florida goalie coach Robb Tallas pointing out that Team USA goalie Ryan Miller played in the AHL for three seasons before finally taking over in Buffalo. That said, the Panthers do like what they have in the system and the franchise has a history of good goaltending starting with picking up John Vanbiesbrouck in the 1993 expansion draft.

“I'm not a big believer of forcing younger guys in,'' Tallas said. “There's a long maturing process. We want them to be comfortable so we develop them the right way. You see so many guys come up, have a great first season and then the second is a struggle. Then it's a struggle to find their game.''

Clemmensen has been one of a few players to improve his stock in the final month of the season.

“A coach's confidence in a player, especially a goaltender, is directly related to winning games,'' coach Pete DeBoer said on Saturday. “Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Clemm has been part of the solution around here the past handful of times he's played. That's important.''

Said Clemmensen: “After the break I wanted to make sure whatever chance I got, I would make the most of it. Even though it's late in the season, every game means so much to me.''

-- The Panthers sent center Jeff Taffe and winger Mike Duco back to Rochester on Sunday. Winger Gregory Campbell is expected to return from his broken foot on Tuesday against Ottawa. Byron Bitz (elbow) and Victor Oreskovich (lower body) have also been out and could return.


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Have you ever asked the coach why he plays players like Kreps or Campbell when they obviously haven't produced, instead of the younger ones? Or have you asked why he only gives some like Ellerby three minutes in a game? I don't understand his mentality at all.

Sexton has his work cut out for him if we are to be a playoff contender next year. I agree that it makes sense to trade Vokun, free up cap space and get some scoring on this team.

The problem is that the one bright spot that has kept us competitive on most nights for the past several years is goaltending, and losing Vokun who was spectacular this season will hurt. Clemmenson is good but he is neither Vokun nor Luongo.

Looks like they will try to go to a stronger, offensive type team over the summer if they can, but without the goaltending, it will be tough.

Listen, it's a tough call in trading Vokoun. You are losing a guy who has kept the other teams honest against you for most of the season. Vokoun is the Panthers MVP. But this franchise is going nowhere unless they can bring in some good pieces. Vokoun is now working on his UFA year. Do you keep him and a) trade him at the deadline for scraps or b) let him walk away for nothing or c) pull a Bouwmeester trade and get scraps in return?

I think you make a deal THIS summer (like they should have done with Bo during the Olli draft night trade) and get a little something, you know, for the effort.

Couldn't agree with you more George. Sexton needs to get a deal done for Vokoun this summer and he needs a good return. If nothing else, he (Sexton) got a close up view of how to blow a "star" player in his run up to UFA with Bouwmeester. Hopefully, he took notes on how to avoid that situation.

Then again, we ARE the Panthers.

George as much as I like Vokoun and what he's done for the Panthers, especially this season, I agree, we need to move him.

It's proably one of the only ways to infuse talent since most free agents of real quality aren't coming here yet.

As for goaltending, find a veteran free agent, give him a year or two deal until we are sure one of the young guys is ready.

Offensively we have been challenged for years. It's time to fix that.

Just like the song says " you never know what you got till it's gone". Wait till we trade vokun, lose a bunch of 6-4 games and the outcries of we have no netminder begin.
Ask Philly fans what it's like to go 35 years without a goalie...

Vokun is not jayblo... He likes it here... It takes years to develop a goalie don't dump the only all star we have, unless it's just a trade 2 good to be true.

Tomas does like it here, you are right. And it's going to be tough to pull that trigger knowing how good he's been. Maybe you're right Jack. Perhaps they keep him hoping to sign him for another 2-3 years. But if that's the case, the Panthers better find out whether or not he's going to sign that contract or not.

Not just Vokoun but McCabe, Stillman and Dvorak should be gone too. The Panthers can just as easily finish 13th in the East without these guys and actually start to build something.

I would like to see the Panthers trade Vokoun for a ton of draft picks or a top prospect (Verseeg, Carson, etc.).

What would be the best draft for the Panthers? Use all of their draft picks. Draft all forwards. Too many energy line guys in the AHL/junior system right now. We need guys who can score goals. Sign some undrafted rookie defensemen to go to Rochester. Maybe they get lucky, and find the diamond in the rough.

What would be the best free agent signing for the Panthers?
*no 35 yr old journeymen
*Sign a solid 20-30 goal scorer to a three year deal.
* Find Letang's clone

Best trade for the Panthers?
Deal Oslez and Vokoun/ if the Panthers draft a top center, deal Weiss

If you decide to re-sign Vokoun, you use the fact that he likes it here to low ball the salary with the condition that you will bring in more assets up front to support time of puck possession and scoring. Then you offer an incentive laden deal so that he could make twice what he would be offered elsewhere but only if the team makes the playoffs and goes deep, he keeps his goals against down and save percentage up .

Vokoun's market will probably be set by the teams that fail in the playoffs because of their goaltending (I'm looking at YOU, Philly). Maybe they'll rethink keeping Carter. Maybe Boston will cough up the Leafs' first rounder plus one of their goalies if they get smoked.

The only reason I'd keep Vokoun is if no contender offered fair value for him. He deserves to go to a competitive team.

Anyone who quotes a Cinderella song absolutely rules in my book, AG!

It makes no sense to keep TiVo in his contract year when he's 33 and not a part of the long-term future, so trading him at the draft is very obviously the thing the team must do. This team needs as much flexibility cap-wise as well as some high-end prospects (which Vokoun will likely bring back) so Sexton can re-tool the roster. I think Campbell will be back as a 4th liner, but I doubt Kreps is back (easily replaceable). You need guys like Dvo though, he's defensively responsible and nets you 10-15 goals a year including a couple short-handers, so I'm for keeping Dvo. I would like to see Rhino traded, or at a minimum on the 3rd line with Dvo and Stillman (if not traded himself). The top 6 need to instill fear in opponents. So get a true #1 center, let Weiss have the #2 center spot where he should continue to flourish, and Booth/Frolik can play either of those lines.

I really hope we can get rid of Rusty and that stupid contract, however we'd likely have to take someone else's garbage contract.

Big summer, but at least the mistake we made with Bouwmeester likely won't be replicated with Vokoun. I'm just curious to see how the FA class matches up with last year.

what are you smoking, JimH? (and can I have some?) boston's not trading for vokie. they have thomas and rask. chicago or philly? yeah, possibly.

Don't forget the Caps....Vally and Theodore are huge question marks for them. They could be the next Sharks from last season, gone quickly in the playoffs despite ruling the conference the entire year.

I did this blog entry for George TWO entries ago, if I'm not mistaken. It made sense then, and still makes sense now, IMO.

*With regards to trading Vokoun, I mean.

Big slap shot Bob: I was quoting Mike and the Mechanics, "All I need is a Miracle" Didnt know it was in Cinderella, but I trust your knowlege base on that.

GR: thx for your response and you make a great point. Lets see if we can get him to commit to a fair contract extension now. Diggler has some good ideas in that regard. He cares, a rare panther attribute, and would love him for 2 yrs past next to guide our young upcomers while giving us a chance to win.

Of couse if the cant come to terms, then at least both parties tried and you move foward.

I feel Vokoun should be signed for maybe another 2 yrs, let him help with Markstrom, Plante, CBT, and maybe the Denver dude. Experience can breed experience in my opinion. Yes he does like it here and he does so much for youth charities and such. He may sign a more incentive laden deal IF IF IF we sign some front end talent. He is a very valuable commodity in the NHL and we should hold on if he is willing to stay. Kreps!!! He has to go! So does Rusty. Neither have performed well this season. Rhino has done well but in a bit of a slump. Lest we forget he was leading the scoring charge for a while in the beginning. I also think Matthias has paid his dues and is ready for the Blue jersey. He has shown heart, speed and grit this season.

I know the Panthers love having Vokoun around and he just may be in their long-term plans. Look around the league: A goalie like TVo isn't easy to get. If he's not in the long-term plans, the Panthers should make sure HE'S not easy to get.

Would the Flyers give up a good young forward like Van Riemsdyk for Vokoun--they need a goalie badly. Why doe most people on this board want to get rid of Weiss?? Maybe he's not a legitimate #1 center, but, he is at least a 2nd line center and we need a couple of good centers--not get rid of them. What happened to Olesz-he mailed in the season? Will anyone take his salary ina trade--I wouldn't. Ellerby, Repik, and all other young players should be playing all the time now. We tied a league record by not making the playoffs--again.

More mistakes as the Panthers should've gotten rid of T-VO by now... Now another playoff goes by, and he still doesn't have proven big-game experience... So the return on T-Vo won't be anywhere near you'd like it to be... And you're still not getting Carter, whether Philly makes the playoffs or not... And also certainly not 2 Top-6 Fwds and picks like some people think...

So just dish him off for something logical like a nice Top-6 Fwd and pick... Mainly try to get rid of the $6 million contract... This team is still a few years and many moves away from competing... Goalies are always available and apparently that's the only position we know how to draft... So what good does it do for us to have all these goalies in the system?

T-VO is not the problem here, the question is whether he will still be playing when/if this team improves.

I would make him a contract offer and see what is available. It doesn't do any good to trade him if we don't get a good return.

If we can't get a good return, then see if we can sign him. He either needs to be traded or signed by the draft.

Without Vokoun, this team finishes at the bottom of the league behind the Oilers.

Clean house now and become a power in 2 to 3 years

Trade Vokoun and sign one of the following...

Vesa Toskala. Hated playing for Ron Wilson reportedly and lookin to take a massive pay cut from
$4mil per.

Dan Ellis. Rinne seems to be the man with a future in Nashville. Ellis is a decent goalie who can be relied on for stretches, and only commands about $2 mil presently.

Budaj, Hedberg, Leighton are available. Even a Chris Mason, Martin Biron, or Alex Auld can be viable options for a season.

Get rid of keeps and Campbell bring up repik and dadnov . Trade vokoun and clemmer sign a ufa goalie and bring in markstrom! For vokoun bring in a guy like vanriemsdyk keep horton and weiss and booth to teach the young guys. Get rid off stillman and send Matthias back down please. So see how this looks for lines next year. 1 vanriemsdyk weiss horton. 2 booth frolik repik. 3 bitz dadnov dvo. 4 oreskovich. Taffe. Johnson.

How sick would that be if we landed in the Bottom three pick up Taylor hall or Tyler seguin or cam fowler boost right there I just hope they get a strong north American power idenity player not euopean speedskater

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