A floridapanthers.com exclusive, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be sharing his thoughts with Panthers and hockey fans throughout the year in his blog entitled G.M. Journal.
If you’re a Panthers fan, you have to be pleased with what you saw at the 2010 IIHF World Championships. I certainly was, as Tomas Vokoun won Gold for the Czech Republic while goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom
took home the Bronze Medal for Sweden. Meanwhile, one of our better young defensemen, Dmitry Kulikov
, helped Russia win the Silver Medal.
For me, after officially taking over as Panthers General Manager last Tuesday, heading to Germany was an opportunity for me to see some great hockey, check in on the players we had competing, and also to sit down with head coach Pete DeBoer to talk about the great future we see for this franchise.
It was a very good meeting that touched on a large variety of subjects. We discussed virtually every aspect of hockey as far as player evaluation, style of play, his philosophies and my philosophies. It was a very open, honest and upfront dialogue – consistent with what I already know about Pete - and it was very, very encouraging and positive. I really enjoy and respect Pete’s approach. I like the fact that he was very upfront after the season with his quotes and he’s a stand up guy. I think we’re going to have a very good relationship.
The important thing now though, is that we all continue to take the proper steps toward having a productive and successful offseason, and being prepared for the start of training camp. From that standpoint, I was able to meet with Markstrom – our very good young goalie – and open negotiations with he and his agent.
It was a good meeting in which he expressed interest in coming over here, and we expressed interest in trying to sign him, so I’m confident we can get that deal done soon, which is something our fans should be excited about.
Ability wise he is ready to play. But we have to keep in mind that the style of play from the Swedish Elite League to the NHL and even the AHL is very different and there is certainly a learning curve. There’s not as much activity and traffic in front of the net. Here, the rink is smaller, narrower, and that adds to the physicality element.
Certainly he’s going to have an adjustment period and he’s going to play some games in the American League. Obviously, right now, we have two big goalies in Florida with Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen
, and I think, for Markstrom, that’s the perfect situation to learn the North American game and get some experience.
We don’t want to rush him; we want to make sure he’s ready. There’s nothing wrong with him playing some games in the American League. We went through the same situation in Chicago with Annti Niemi – it didn’t hurt him to play in the American League, and look what’s happened there. We want to pick the proper steps and make sure that we develop him. This is a marathon not a sprint, so we need to make sure that he develops along the right path.
This weekend I’m in Toronto with some of our scouts at the NHL Scouting Combine, ahead of June’s Entry Draft. This is where we get a final opportunity to see many of the draft eligible prospects up close on the ice, and in an interview setting.
As I said during my introductory press conference, our goal as a franchise is to have 20 players that we drafted on our roster every game night. Realistic or not, to do that you have to hit on your high draft picks, but you also have to find some gems in the later rounds. This weekend’s combine, and really scouting on the whole, is a huge step toward that end goal. We’re out here looking for players that fit our blueprint for a successful franchise, and at the same time, hopefully we’ll find some guys that will generate some excitement for our great fan base in the years to come.
It’s been over a week since I took this job, and I’ve been through quite the travelling whirlwind. But I can’t express enough how excited I am to put my mark on this franchise, and how thankful I am that ownership has given me this opportunity.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at our Cats Cookout at the BankAtlantic Center on June 10.