Welcome to Facing Off, our new weekly editorial in which two LBC staffers go head-to-head and voice their opinions on all things Panthers. We invite the community to give us their take as well, so once you've finished reading, feel free to post your comments. Please remember that we are simply voicing our opinions and asking our readers to do the same; therefore, keep the commenting civil and avoid any flame wars. Initiate argument functions...
Our featured authors: Donny & Alex
We all saw the numbers from the preseason, and numbers rarely lie: Jose Theodore struggled throughout the "don't count" games, giving everyone a very uneasy feeling that he'll barely be able to tie Tomas Vokoun's shoes, let alone fill them. Meanwhile, possibly the best goalie in the world not starting in the NHL waits in the wings. Is it time to bring Jacob Markström in as the starter this season, or is it too early to trust the youngster with the reins?
Starting Jacob Markström may not be as insane as you might think.
Experience and success at minor league levels
Before coming over to North America, Markström played for Brynäs IF in both J20 SuperElit and Elitserien. For those who don't know, the Elitserien, or Swedish Elite League, is the highest hockey league in Sweden, and one of the most respected hockey leagues in the world. Just like in the AHL, Markström played against players more experienced than him and was able to come out on top, winning Elitserien Rookie of the Year in 2010 and IIHF Best Player Award for goaltender at the World Juniors in 2009. Unlike Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau, Markström has experience with older players and North American ice.
Trial by fire
While experience in the AHL would help Markström develop, experience in the NHL could help even more. With a veteran defense, a head coach with success in developing young players, and a Vezina Trophy winner to mentor him, Markström could learn more in the NHL than he can in the AHL. Also, what's the worst than could happen? He has a rookie season like Marc-André Fleury and Cam Ward (regular season)? If Markström can't handle the heat, then bench him and send him back to the AHL. But if he can, we don't need to wait until next season for him to challenge Théodore for the number one spot.