An area the Florida Panthers have always been strong in may lose some stability this off season, the organization may have to shift gears in their goaltending department as veteran starter Tomas Vokoun faces free agency. An anchor for the Panthers for the last four years, Vokoun has been a critical part of the team's success and consistently keeps Florida in the game when called upon. It may not be a difficult decision on how to address Vokoun; the club should try as hard as possible to resign him before attempting to move his rights, but we must remember that players have agendas of their own that may complicate negotiations. Motives behind this situation after the jump.
|2010 - Tomas Vokoun||57||3224||22||28||137||2.55||1753||1616||.922||6|
Tomas Vokoun- UFA, 34 years old, 4 seasons with Florida
Although his numbers dipped a little lower this year than those of his last few seasons, Tomas Vokoun is still an elite goalie in the NHL even though he has played with a not-so-elite team over the last 4 years. While with the Panthers, Vokoun has become one of the leagues best goaltenders putting up a very respectable .923 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average. For comparison, other elite goalies like Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres has put up marks of .917 SV% and 2.5 GAA, and Roberto Loungo of the Vancouver Canucks has put up marks of .920 SV% and 2.35 GAA over the last four years. The difference of course is that Vokoun does not play on a playoff team, meaning he could put up even better numbers with a contending team. Vokoun certainly has a market of teams eying him this off season. For Dale Tallon, this could be an advantage in negotiating with teams eager for a star goalie, or it could mean shelling out big money to keep Vokoun.
Why Tallon would resign Vokoun:
One of the most important building blocks for a cup winning team is a goalie with cup winning potential, something Dale Tallon did not exactly have when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks organization. I would be surprised if Tallon did not actively try to resign Vokoun, in his first year as the Panthers GM it should be apparent that his team needs Vokoun to succeed. At least for now anyways.
While many agree that prospect Jacob Markstrom is the Panthers future in goal, he still needs to gain experience on North American ice, and who better to mentor him then a 12 year veteran in Tomas Vokoun. Besides being an elite goalie that keeps the Panthers in games, Vokoun would undoubtedly be the best and most practical teacher for Markstrom or Tyler Plante. If Markstrom or Plante were to be promoted to the backup role for the Panthers next season, the team would still have the stability of Tomas Vokoun while giving the young goaltenders for a future starting role.
Why Vokoun would resign with the Panthers:
Vokoun has seen some rough times and heart break with his time with the Panthers, yet has never said he wishes to leave the team. Said Vokoun last off season after talks with Dale Tallon:
I came here with one goal and that was to make the playoffs here. And I haven't reached it. I don't like to leave with something you set to do and you didn't do it. So I definitely would like to stay. (per Sun-Sentinel 6/15/10)
Despite another difficult season (he finished with the second most losses in the league with 28) Vokoun was not traded at the deadline and reminded the press that he wished to stay with the Panthers. Just days after the deadline, Tvo had this to say:
You want to play in the playoffs. In a way, it is a little bit disappointing. But I like being here, too. It’s not like I asked to leave. I told them I’d like to stay. (per Miami Herald 3/2/11)