Understandably overshadowed by the 'Florida Panthers future in goal' Jacob Markstrom, two goaltenders in the organization, Tyler Plante and Marc Cheverie each have an important role to fill in the near future. As we all know, if starting goalie Tomas Vokoun does not re-sign this summer and general manager Dale Tallon opts out of signing another free agent goaltender, someone from the Panthers AHL affiliate will have to step up to fill a back-up spot with the Panthers and a new back-up for the affiliate will be needed. If this scenario unfolds this summer, you may need to become a little more familiar with the two goaltenders who would likely fill these roles. Where Plante and Cheverie might find themselves this October after the jump.
Tyler Plante- Rochester Americans, set to become an RFA, 24 years old, $687,500 cap hit
After going 89-49-10 in four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the OHL, Tyler Plante was drafted 32nd overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Signed to an Entry-Level Contract in June 2007, and a one year contract in 2010, Plante has yet to see time in the NHL. A late crop of injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen did allow Plante to ride the pine for a couple of games, but fortunately for him it is quite possible we will see Plante make his NHL debut next season.
Why Plante will be resigned: With the most money to spend on players in the NHL, GM Dale Tallon probably will not have to take the machete to the organization's RFA pool, meaning even if Plante doesn't ever leave the AHL he will still likely be resigned. But this is not the case, if the Panthers need a back-up this fall all fingers point to Plante to fill the spot. Though Plante did not have a season much better than Jacob Markstrom, Plante has been in the organization longer and has had more time to develop into his full potential than his counterpart Markstrom. To put it simply, there is little risk in bringing Plante up to the big club, whereas bringing Markstrom up could be detrimental. Though the first choice for most Panthers fans would be to resign Vokoun at all costs, if he cannot be resigned it may benefit the other goaltenders down the rope. Plante could finally play with an NHL club, Markstrom would continue developing as a starter in the AHL, and Marc Cheverie could move from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL to an AHL back-up role.
Without Plante, Tallon would almost be forced to sign a UFA goaltender or swing a trade if Vokoun does not resign, something he probably would not like to do. Since the market both starters and back-ups is questionable this year, Tallon could opt to save a lot of money by signing Plante for relatively cheap and seeing what happens with a Clemmensen-Plante duo. Even if Vokoun does resign, there is almost no reason to pass up on Plante.
Marc Cheverie- Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) Set to become an RFA, 24 years old, $956,250 cap hit
After two dominant years with the University of Denver of the WCHA, Cheverie signed with the Panthers in April of 2010 with a two year Entry-Level Contract. A huge steal in the 2006 Entry Draft, Cheverie was drafted 193rd overall by then-GM Randy Sexton. Cheverie has found himself awarded the WCHA Player of the Year as well as a Hobey Baker award finalist. Since leaving DU, Cheverie played in 30 games with the Cincinnati Cyclones and 15 games with the Rochester Americans, going 2-7-1 with a 3.91 GAA and .888 SV%. Don't let these numbers fool you though, Cheverie was called up after Markstrom went down on a horrible Rochester squad.
Why Cheverie will be resigned: As with Tyler Plante, there really isn't much of a reason not to resign Marc Cheverie. With Alexander Salak traded, Cheverie could be the best goalie in the system behind Markstrom, he's just farther down the road. Cheverie would be the likely fill in if a back-up is needed with the Panthers' AHL affiliate next season, but if not he will assuredly stay with the Cyclones. If Cheverie is resigned, expect a sizable pay-cut from the nearly 1 million cap hit he has now. Unlike Plante, Cheverie might be pursued by other teams being a more attractive RFA, but even then I doubt any team will go too high for Tallon to counter.
Though Plante's back-up role hinges on what Tomas Vokoun does and Cheverie doesn't fit into the Panthers' immediate plans, both are good goalies that offer high rewards for a team that wouldn't spend much on them. I am confident that both Tyler Plante and Marc Cheverie will be resigned no matter what develops with Vokoun. If the price is right, one cannot fault resigning either player and fortifying an already strong goaltending pool that the Florida Panthers have acquired.