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Reality Check: Panthers' rapidly expanding net-presence

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Markstrom should find himself anchoring San Antonio's goal in 2012-13, but retention of Grumet-Morris adds experience and competitive fire to Rampage - and the Florida organization
Markstrom should find himself anchoring San Antonio's goal in 2012-13, but retention of Grumet-Morris adds experience and competitive fire to Rampage - and the Florida organization

With the recent signing of 2012 CHL All-Everything netminder Michael Houser the Florida Panthers have seemingly covered all of their organizational holes – and perhaps a few we weren’t privy to – in net for the coming season whenever it may eventually get underway.

A quick refresher: less than one month ago, the Cats were theoretically reeling on a sudden lack of depth at the goaltending position, as Scott Clemmensen was a perceived lock for free agency amid a rising tide of rumors - which have yet to lose momentum - involving Roberto Luongo's predicted return to SoFla and how such a move might ultimately affect current starter Jose Theodore's standing. Factor in a very effective Dov Grumet-Morris hitting the UFA market alongside Brian Foster's pending RFA status and the situation could realistically have been defined as "grim" for at least one of Florida's entities...whether on the parent Panthers or among the two farm clubs.

The landscape is far different one-third of the way through July, as the Cats lay claim to a stable of five goaltenders under contract, with an equal number of such spots available spread among the Panthers, AHL Rampage, and ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones (began typing these guys in yet againblast):

  • Theodore (FLA starter; 1 year remaining under contract)
  • Clemmensen (FLA backup; 2 years)
  • Jacob Markstrom (SA starter; 1 year)
  • Grumet-Morris (SA backup with solid starter lineage; 1 year)
  • Houser (CIN starter? Affiliation is shared with Nashville so presumably there exists no guarantee as to his role; kicking off a 3-year ELC in any case)

A reminder: 25-year old Brian Foster – who cut his pro teeth on an 11-6-1 (.918/2.30) record with the Cyclones in 2011-12 – is an RFA, and reportedly has been "qualified". So there’s that to confuse the matter further. One can safely assume the only other goaltending prospect – hulking but unremarkable Russian Sergei Gayduchenko, drafted by Florida's Team Wayward in 2007 – is finally off the hook.

Even if nothing further happens in goal this summer, management has hedged any potential bets with a decent collection of talent - mostly, and wisely, of a familiar variety - spread throughout the ranks.