With the Florida Panthers season set to begin on October 8th, one of the biggest questions facing the organization was what would their goaltending situation be to kick start the season. On Thursday that picture become quite clear as the Panthers’ organization announced that they had placed goaltender Tyler Plante on waivers for purpose of sending him to the Panthers AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
Originally, plans were to dub newly acquired goaltender Jose Theodore as the starter with Scott Clemmensen to once again maintain the backup position. But, Clemmensen had performed so well during the preseason, it was thought that he could actually claim the starting position, until a speed bump arose for Clemmensen when it was announced Monday that he would require minor knee surgery. This in turn resulted in an opportunity for 24-year old Tyler Plante, and Panthers goaltender of the future, Jacob Markstrom to step up and battle it out for a spot on the opening day roster.
Both Plante and Markstrom performed well during both the off-season and during preseason action for the Panthers, but a decision had to be made in order to get ready for the season and Tuesday Night’s game against the Dallas Stars may have been what put the final nail in Plante’s coffin.
To see how each goaltender would perform head-to-head, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen decided to split game time 50-50 between the two netminders. Markstrom started the game and stopped all 10 shots he faced in 31 minutes. Plante then entered the game and proved why he would not be ready for a backup position as he quickly allowed 3 goals early before settling in, which allowed the Stars to take a 3-1 lead. The game would eventually go to overtime, thanks to two late goals by Jonathan Huberdeau and Dmity Kulikov before former Boston Bruin Micheal Ryder ended it just 1:11 into the extra period.
Evidentially, the 4 goals on 16 shots weighed heavily on Plante’s future with the club as he packed his bags Thursday and headed back to San Antonio.
“It was a good battle to try to earn that roster spot. At the end of it, it was performance based,” Dineen said. “It wasn’t potential based for me. We’re not here to sell the future. Guys who perform well on ice are going to earn their way into the lineup and that’s the way the situation played out.”
With the goaltending situation figured out, Dineen said he has decided to ride Jose Theodore tonight in hopes of locking up a win as the team wraps up their preseason play in Dallas against the Stars.