The Panthers may have a rookie game left to be played, but it appears goalie Jacob Markstrom's development camp is over. Next stop: Training camp.
Markstrom went 1-1 in the Panthers mini-tournament, beating Tampa Bay 4-2 on Sunday night before dropping a 3-1 decision on Tuesday afternoon. Markstrom won't be in net for Wednesday's game against the Lightning as the Panthers have apparently seen enough – for now – of their supposed 'goalie of the future.'
The Panthers' rookie game against the Lightning will start at noon at the Coral Springs IcePlex. Admission is free. Brian Foster will start in net and play the entire game, coach Chuck Weber said.
“I think you can see a a huge difference in him from last year,'' goalie coach Robb Tallas said of Markstrom. “You can see the confidence. And this from a guy who hasn't played a full game since [February]. I'm real happy with how he played. He tracked the puck well, the goals that beat him were good shots.
"He's made big saves. He wants to stop every single puck. He came into camp with a mind that he's showing everyone he's healthy. He's making a stand for himself.''
Markstrom missed the second half of last season after injuring his knee while playing for Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. While it looks like Markstrom will start this season with the Panthers' new AHL team in San Antonio, Markstrom has looked sharp and should push goalies Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen.
If one of those gets hurt – or falters – Markstrom is working toward being ready to make the jump.
With Clemmensen having just one year left on his contract, it's expected that Markstrom will be with the Panthers no later than next season.
For now, however, the next step is training camp. The Panthers will have physicals on Friday and hold their first practice of the 2011-12 season on Saturday in Coral Springs.
“I felt pretty good, but it's been some time since I last played,'' Markstrom said on Tuesday. “I got two games in and feel good. It's getting there. This was a good game to play in, but it's too bad we couldn't get the win. I'm trying to work hard on the ice, off the ice. We'll see what happens. I would have liked to win both games, won by shutouts. But not everything goes your way.''
(-) The Panthers had a 1-0 lead on Nashville on Tuesday after Jonathan Huberdeau redirected a rebound from a Erik Gudbranson shot past Atte Engren. Nashville scored twice in the second and once early in the third to get a 3-1 win. The Predators went 2-0 in the rookie tournament.
(-) Nashville's Craig Smith had and impressive few days, the 21-year-old forward scoring four goals Monday against Tampa Bay before getting two more against Florida on Monday.
Smith had three goals and three assists in seven games at the World Championships earlier this summer in Slovakia prompting him to forgo his junior season at the University of Wisconsin to give the Predators a shot.
Smith should play in one of the two preseason games against the Panthers next Monday in Sunrise and could make Nashville's opening night roster with a strong showing in camp.
“I knew he was a good player,'' Markstrom said.
(-) Florida's Quinton Howden left the game after a big hit in the second period. Weber, the Panthers AHL coach who is behind the bench for the rookie games, say Howden's removal from the game was for precautionary reasons.