Sunday, June 10, 2007

Panthers may stay with Belfour

Regarding goaltending, the Panthers have an interest in re-signing Ed Belfour (27-17-10, 2.77 goals-against average), and there's a decent chance that will happen. Management wasn't bothered by his request for a raise from $750,000 or his stated desire to remain a starter.

But before committing to Belfour, the Panthers will consider at least two other scenarios: 1) Free agent Jean Sebastien-Giguere (36-10-8, 2.26). The Panthers expect Anaheim will re-sign him and don't want to enter a bidding war. 2) Exploring a trade with San Jose for Evgeni Nabokov (25-16-4, 2.29) or Vesa Toskala (26-10-1, 2.35). Nabokov has the much larger contract.

Toskala and Giguere (both 30) and Nabokov (31) are much younger than Belfour, 42. But the Panthers prefer Belfour over Minnesota's Manny Fernandez, 32 (who asked to be traded) and Phoenix free agent Curtis Joseph, 40.
The speculation's going to begin early in markets like Florida, where the hockey writers weren't covering the finals and haven't had significant news to report in months. Teams like the Panthers will also be much more open with media outlets willing to cover them, so expect articles like this to shed light on what's happening in the non-traditional markets in the lead-up to July 1.

As for the news that Belfour's set to return to Miami: As well as he played last season, this is a mistake. The Panthers have to get some young blood into all areas of their roster and develop from within, rebuild around Nathan Horton and Jay Bouwmeester and do it quickly before they reach unrestricted free agency at 25 or 26.

This year isn't going to be a winning season for the Panthers, not with moves like this being made, and you have to imagine Olli Jokinen is regretting his decision to stick around while Roberto Luongo jumped ship.

Coach/GM Jacques Martin's no dummy, but he is new to the manager's role, and if there are any growing pains, it's going to be ugly in south Florida. Again.



At 10:43 p.m., June 10, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Does anyone know how the Red Wings are feeling about Jimmy Howard? He was going to be the guy very soon, but then I heard almost nothing about him over the course of the season. It doesn't look like he was the regular starter in Grand Rapids, even.

If the Wings have soured on him (which would be a shame, because when he was at Maine, he was jawdroppingly good), they could be a real player in the goalie market.

At 11:10 a.m., June 11, 2007, Blogger El Brucio said...

The Red Wings said Howard is a year away recently, which is basically just short for "not ready yet" than a real time frame on his arrival. He was their #1 AHL goalie, he got a few callups that probably disrupted his total games played and they also wanted to test out Stefan Liv, who had been a top goalie in Sweden. Liv is going back to Sweden, so Howard should get full duty next year for sure. Detroit used to have 3 young goalies with NHL potential (Joey MacDonald as well as Liv) and Howard is the last one standing of them.

If Hasek retires expect the Red Wings to have interest in any of the goalies on the trade market, and the off chance they might take Belfour if he's available since they were interested in him last year. They don't seem interested in breaking Howard in just yet.

At 5:56 p.m., June 11, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

I saw a couple of his college games, too, and he was amazing. Howard is just a puppy in goalie years (23, I think) and Detroit probably doesn't want to put too much pressure on him too early. If they do decide to enter the goalie market, it will probably be for a reasonoable veteran starter for a year, not for a high-priced six year contract-type guy.

At 10:40 p.m., June 11, 2007, Anonymous Brad said...

The Wings are just being very patient with Howard's development, keeping him out of the spotlight and letting his game grow. He's still their goaltender of the future, but they're not going to throw him to the wolves if they don't have too. In a few years Ken Holland & Co. will look like geniuses again when Howard steps in and is ready from Day 1.


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