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Swedish goalie Markstrom kicks off Saturday's action

by Dan Rosen

Despite not being selected Friday night in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, Jacob Markstrom did not have to wait long to hear his name called on Saturday as the Florida Panthers made the Swedish goaltending prospect the first pick of Day Two by selecting him at No. 31 overall.
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OTTAWA – Goalie Jacob Markstrom claims he was not disappointed, that he slept well into Saturday morning despite not being selected Friday night in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.

"It was a long day, so I just fell asleep," Markstrom told

Saturday had the makings of a long day, too, but only because Markstrom had virtually all day to celebrate. The Florida Panthers didn't make the Swedish goaltending prospect and the No. 1 ranked European goalie in this year's draft wait long to be selected.

Markstrom, who could have easily gone Friday, was the first pick of Day Two as the Panthers selected him at No. 31.

"It was really fun and really fast, but huge to hear your name get called like that," said Markstrom, 18. "It will really be fun to go in the first round, but first in the second round is big and Florida is a good team."

Markstrom will play two more years in the Swedish Elite League before coming to North America. He said he's not at all worried about the ongoing issues with the transfer agreement between the NHL and the IIHF, and he's looking forward to working with current Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun.

"Tomas Vokoun is a big goalie, a great player," Markstrom said. "I have seen him a lot at games and he's really good. I'll wait and see, but it's going to be really fun."

Many people have been saying Markstrom is the best Swedish goaltending prospect since Henrik Lundqvist, but neither he nor Goran Stubb, the NHL's Director of European Scouting, would go as far as making the comparison to the New York Rangers goalie, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist.

"It's really fun and an honor to hear something like that, but you can't say that because Lundqvist is the king of Manhattan now," Markstrom said. "It's really hard to make that comparison to someone like him."

However, it's not so farfetched to broach the subject considering Markstrom was a No. 1 goalie for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League this past year as a 17-year old, which Stubb said is very rare and supremely impressive.

Markstrom started the season with Brynas' junior team and played 22 games down there with two shutouts and a 2.00 goals-against average, but was moved up to the big club late in the season and wound up playing seven games with a 3.12 GAA.

"A forward can always get a chance as the 12th forward in a game and get a couple of shifts, but a team like Brynas was in such a panic situation because of their senior goaltenders, neither of them could take the No. 1 spot," Stubb told "At that time he was 17 and they put him in and he took the pressure like it was nothing. And, he had no contract with the big team so he played free of charge. He was with the club on a junior contract. He got money, but more when he signed his first pro contract."

Markstrom, who also backstopped Sweden to its first-ever gold medal at the 2007 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament and played well in the Under-18 World Championships, said he hopes to primarily work on rebound control during his next two seasons in the SEL.

"He's a very big, tall guy and he plays perhaps a little bit too close into the net; but he reads the game very well, has good reflexes and he's very calm," Stubb said. "He's an excellent, excellent competitor."

A patient one, too.

"I was just sitting and trying to enjoy it with the crowd there," Markstrom said of his first-round experience. "It wasn't hard, not at all because first round or second round, it's still two years down the road."

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