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Florida Panthers should keep Tomas Vokoun, at least for now

Jun 16, 2010, 3:45 PM EST

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vokounstays.jpgIt might not stay this way for long, but at least at the moment, new Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he wants to hold onto Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun. The Florida Sun-Sentinel shares the story.

“He sounded like he wants to improve the team,” Vokoun said of Tallon. “And he thinks we’re going to be contending for a playoff spot. 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.”

Vokoun has consistently said he doesn’t want to leave, but noted before the deadline he would be willing to consider waiving his no-trade clause in the right scenario. He reiterated that after the season.

While he’s far from well-known with casual hockey fans, Vokoun is the darling of many stats bloggers – and for good reason. Although the goalie rarely puts up good win-loss numbers (he went 23-28-12 during the 2009-10 season), it’s hard to blame Vokoun. His lowest save percentage in Florida was 91.9 while he posted a 92.5 mark in 09-10 and 92.6 percentage in 08-09. That’s an absolutely impressive run, even though his work failed to get Florida into the playoffs.

I mean, you have to be pretty good to force this season’s unexpected breakout goalie Craig Anderson into a backup role, right?

Then again, does it really matter if the team still falls short of the postseason anyway? He’ll make $6.3 million in salary next season while leaving a $5.7 million dent on the Panthers salary cap. As James Mirtle points out, Florida surprisingly has the seventh-highest payroll in the NHL as of this moment. Naturally, that will change by the time October rolls around, but it’s still stunning that the team has so much invested in an unproductive club.

Overall, I agree with the decision to keep Vokoun – at least for now. If the Panthers struggle out of the date (a fall tradition, by the way), then I imagine the team could still receive a decent return for the talented goalie. Still, you never know, a goalie-desperate team might throw a lucrative trade package their way for him.

Tallon should recognize that Vokoun could be the key to improving the Panthers … whether he’s between the pipes or on the trading block.

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