While being interviewed by Panther scouts Thursday here in Ottawa, 18-year-old goalie Jacob Markstrom
was asked how he fared in games against former NHL curmudgeon Ed Belfour last season in the Swedish Elite League.
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Markstrom won them both, including a 2-0 shutout.
“Did you ask Ed to sign the puck,” one scout asked?
“No,” Markstrom said. “He wasn’t too happy.”
Not the case with the Panthers, who were ecstatic Saturday morning when they chose the 6-3 goalie here as their first selection (No. 31) at the NHL Entry.
“We got a guy projected as a franchise elite, No. 1 goalie,” said Scott Luce, the Panthers’ director of amateur scouting. “For him to slip to No. 31? It’s a good day for us.”
Markstrom, the No. 1 ranked European goalie by Central Scouting, led Sweden to its first-ever gold medal at the 2007 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial. He stopped 36 of 40 shots against Team Canada and stoned Steven Stamkos in overtime. He posted a 2.57 goals against and a .924 save percentage for Sweden’s national Under-17 team.
“We got a guy we love,” Luce said. “He’s a big, ,athletic goaltender who’s a real competitor. He was a leader on the national team, that speaks volumes for his character.”
A native of Gavle, Sweden, Markstrom’s father and brother were soccer goalies and his mother was a handball goalie. Luce said the Panthers listened to several “significant offers” overnight, “but we decided we wanted to keep the pick.”