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Vokoun unsure if Panthers will be part of his future

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 1:36 PM / 2011 Trade Deadline

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun has not been asked to waive his no-movement clause yet, nor has he been approached by Panthers' management to talk about a contract extension.

Would he be interested in either?

"I don't know," Vokoun told NHL.com.

The 34-year-old Vokoun, whose current four-year contract expires at the end of this season, does know that he's in control of the situation with a no-movement clause, so now it's a matter of what he does if, or more likely when, the Panthers approach him about either waiving it or talking terms for a contract extension.

The situation would have to be right for Vokoun to agree to a trade. As much as he wants to earn a playoff berth with the Panthers this season (they're 11th right now), he's obviously enticed about going to a team that needs him as perhaps the final piece of a playoff puzzle. He's played in only 11 playoff games over his 12 seasons in the NHL and has never made it past the first round.

Washington comes to most people's minds when they think about a team that could need some goaltending help at the deadline. Detroit tried and failed to pick up Evgeni Nabokov, so maybe GM Ken Holland is still in the market for some insurance to Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood and would be willing to sacrifice something in return.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon has been adamant about wanting to bring the model he used in Chicago to build the Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup champion to South Florida. Stockpiling draft picks and prospects is essential to making that happen, and Vokoun could be the fish that lands Tallon the best return.

"Yeah, I've thought about it (waiving the no-movement clause) but it would be determined on what kind of situation that would be," said Vokoun, who is 17-17-3 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .923 save percentage this season. "I can't say yes or no because I don't know what the actual situation would be."

Vokoun can become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on July 1, so he's similarly non-committal about a contract extension. He isn't sure what he'd do if Tallon came to him or his agent to start negotiations on one now.

"Nobody knows anything. You deal with these situations when you know what is actually going on," Vokoun said. "Nobody gave me any offer. Really I don't know any more than you do. I would think about it, but obviously there are all kinds of factors into it. I can't say yes or no."

Vokoun said he's not worried about falling into a similar trap that Nabokov and Marty Turco dropped into last season as veteran goalies looking for one more big contract.

Nabokov couldn't find anybody willing to give him a long-term deal so he went and signed for four years to play in the KHL. He lasted only a few months and now he's under suspension by the New York Islanders because he failed to report after they claimed him off waivers.

Turco had to wait until very late in the offseason to finally ink a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Corey Crawford has since knocked him down on the depth chart and there's no telling what's in store for Turco this coming summer.

"Honestly, I'm not thinking about that," Vokoun said. "That was last year and this year could be totally different. I'm not going to base any decisions on that."

Vokoun hasn't let any of the uncertainty surrounding his immediate future bother him on the ice. He's coming off a 37-save effort in a 3-2 loss at Montreal on Wednesday and has a .929 save percentage over his last five starts. He's faced 35 or more shots in four of those.

"I think that the guys in Florida are used to this being a pretty traumatic month as far as rumors go and which way the organization is going to be heading," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think the fact that it's a contract year adds a little bit to that for him, but he's a consummate professional. Really, he's in a good spot. He has a no-movement clause so he controls that process."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery