March 13, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen (30) stretches before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Nothing on the Versteeg/Kulikov front, but the Florida Panthers have made what I feel is a very pertinent, smart move in resigning backup Scott Clemmensen to a two year deal ($1.5M/year) after finishing last season with a 14-6-6 record, 2.57 GAA , .913 Sv% and one shutout. Clemmensen started the season injured before sliding back into the lineup after a one game conditioning stint in San Antonio. When starter Jose Theodore was injured, Clemmensen shook off a bad rep of being 'shaky' and followed up with 9 consecutive games with a save percentage at or above .900. The backup played a huge part in the Panthers run to the division title down the stretch and was called upon again in the playoffs. Clemmensen refused the Panthers initial offer setting up the assumption he'd test the market, but a final push was made to secure him in Florida.
This signing does in a way quash some of the Roberto Luongo trade rumors, but there is still room for the GMs to work. In the end, this was an "if all else fails" scenario much like signing Theodore last year while the Vokoun talks dragged to a close. It's better to make a move early than to be left in the cold, and with Tallon referring to Clemmensen as a "true professional" the signing is sensible if not surprising.
What this means for Markstrom after the jump.In my eyes, the underlying purpose of resigning Clemmensen is to give Jacob Markstrom (hopefully) another full year in the minors. Markstrom has for the most part impressed in the NHL and would have probably racked up a few wins, but Marky is in no way fully developed. Goaltenders aren't forwards, they don't hit their stride when they're 25 but instead have their golden years later. Leaving Clemmensen in the dust to have Markstrom sit on the bench for 60 games would have been a huge step back in his development as a top tier net minder. This signing proves the Panthers have more in mind than turning him into Jonathan Bernier. He will be a starter, and he will get his starts in the AHL as he has in the past two season. It's not a lack of faith, simply a reminder that Markstrom still has unfinished business in the AHL and could really use a season lacking some sort of serious injury.
Expect Clemmensen to play 25-35 games next season penciled in behind Theodore. The following chart of Clemmensen's last three seasons was compiled courtesy of Alex: