The 20-year-old Markstrom has already spent the past three seasons playing professionally in Sweden and recently helped his country take Bronze in the World Championships.
Markstrom is penned to start next season with the Panthers AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., but things could change.
“We’re pretty deep in goal, but this is a pretty good opportunity for him,’’ general manager Dale Tallon said, referencing starter Tomas Vokoun and backup Scott Clemmensen. “This is good for the franchise.’’
There had been speculation that Markstrom’s agent had demanded that his client start next season with the Panthers or he would return to Sweden for the 2010-11 season. Tallon denied that. But had the Panthers not signed him before June 15, Markstrom indeed would have returned to Europe.
Tallon praised the work of former GM Randy Sexton for laying the groundwork for getting a deal done. Tallon met with Markstrom and his agent in Germany during the Worlds.
Markstrom had five shutouts with a 2.01 GAA and a .927 save percentage for Brynas last season. He signed a three year entry-level deal with the Panthers.
“He’s really a really a wonderful human being and I’m glad we were able to seal the deal,’’ Tallon said. “This gives him the chance to develop in North America and get his feet wet, get ready for the next step. They are realistic. They see the future; they know how bright it is. The opportunity will be there down the road.’’
(*) With all of Florida’s prospects signed, Tallon’s attention now turns to the NHL Entry Draft later this month in Los Angeles where the Panthers have the third overall pick.
Only Tallon has more on his plate than just that. Tallon did confirm that Scott Luce, the team’s director of amateur scouting, will return. Tallon also has to work with coach Pete DeBoer regarding the team’s coaching staff – Mike Kitchen and Jim Hulton have expiring contracts and aren’t expected to return.
The Panthers now have an opening in Rochester after Benoit Groulx resigned with one year left on his contract. Groulx is returning to the Quebec junior league where he left after being hired to coach the Americans by then-GM Jacques Martin.
(*) Winger Kamil Kreps wasn’t expected to be tendered a contract by the Panthers this summer, but that is now a moot point as he has reportedly agreed to play professionally in Finland next season. Kreps, 25, spent parts of four seasons with the Panthers and scored 18 goals with 42 assists in 232 games.
Kreps had his best season in 2007-08 when he accounted for 25 points. He’s one of a handful of restricted free agents the Panthers have to make decisions on.
Gregory Campbell, Jason Garrison and Kenndal McArdle are all expected to receive contract tenders from the Panthers.