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Randy Moller: Randy Moller here on the Eye of the Panther Podcast for your hearing pleasure! On the last Edition of Eye of the Panther we had former Panthers Captain Scott Mellanby joining us. Because of the theme of this episode we’ve brought in another Panthers great. Ladies and gentlemen say hello once again to THE BEEZER, Mr. John Vanbiesbrouck!
John Vanbiesbrouck: Thank you! Thank you! Happy to be here talking Panthers and hockey.
RM: It’s great to have you here John. So you hold the distinction of being the goalie responsible for Florida’s only Stanley Cup Final appearance; does Ben Bishop have what it takes to be the 2nd goalie to drag the Panthers to the Final?
JV: There’s no doubting his skill. Ben Bishop is a legitimate starter with no questions in his game other than his age. His contract runs for two more seasons after this one as well. He’s what the Panthers need and have needed for a while now. Keep in mind though while Bishop can take the Panthers to the Final the Panthers need to make the playoffs first. The Florida GM has some decisions to make, how does he surround Bishop with the talent needed to win? I will say though it’s funny that the Panthers pick up Bishop after just playing him two games in a row.
RM: Well Bishop gave the Panthers two good games. Both 3-2 scores with one going into a shootout. But yes you are correct John, how does a GM surround Bishop with enough talent to win? We’ve seen Bishop make the playoffs three years in a row, all with Tampa. Two first round exits and a third round exit were the results. So our GM here needs to look at what worked or didn’t work in Tampa. Could be a tough job considering just how talented that team is.
JV: Definitely some tough choices ahead. There really isn’t one forward tearing it up on the Panthers so do they risk moving Getzlaf for a different look? Thankfully this isn’t my decision to make.
RM: I’m happy I just need to call the game rather than manage an entire organization. Let’s take a break and continue with the theme but more league-wide.
RM: Welcome back everyone to segment number 2 where Jon Vanbiesbrouck and myself will continue on with the goalie discussion. John, what is going on with Jonathan Quick in Tampa Bay? 2-2 but two really poor games recently.
JV: Quick is just having trouble adjusting. We saw Quick at the start of the season where he struggled. Now he’s struggling again after the move to Tampa Bay. He’ll put up a huge streak in a bit and we’ll forget all about this small dip at the beginning.
RM: Let’s move on to some other goalies. Varlamov, Price, Halak and Schnieder in particular.
JV: Those four names are prime candidates for the Vezina Trophy and we’re only in November! Varlamov is still on the Stanley Cup high and is showing it. Top in the SV% department right now and if I was him I’d be asking for a nice pay raise. Moving on to Price now he is the best goalie in the WHL hands down. He has the results and skill to back that up. Out of the four goalies mentioned Price has seen the most amount of shots. He’s a workhorse who will drag the Canadiens back into the playoffs. Then there’s Halak who is looking to give the Devils their first playoff appearance since Michal joined the team. After three straight seasons of staying at the bottom the Devils are competing. Mind you the Devils aren’t being really chased by any teams but hey they’re in a playoff position!
RM: And last but not least is Cory Schneider of the Buffalo Sabres. He’s winning games and earning his paycheck. He’s what Buffalo paid for when they traded for him. Let’s take a look at the future of the crease. At some point these goalies that have been around for over a decade will regress then retire. Question teams will be asking is who can replace them?
JV: The future of the league belongs to John Gibson, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Jordan Binnington. These are high end starters 25 years old and younger. We’ll have the pleasure of watching them for the next decade. After them though it’s a big question mark. Two goalies that fans should be aware of is Ilya Sorokin and Malcolm Subban. Subban is becoming a big name in Boston for all the right reasons. With Rask injured long term Subban has stepped up and been what the Bruins need him to be. This experience might provide a boost for Subban to become Vezina candidate someday.
Ilya Sorokin on the other hand is struggling as he takes over after Jaroslav Halak left to the Devils. The Islanders just have to pray that the season does not affect Sorokin negatively in the long run. After Sorokin there is one more goalie who could turn into something and that is Ilya Samsonov of the Capitals. There are questions though to if he can take that next step. The Capitals hope he can but I’ve talked to people who aren’t quite convinced with him. After Samsonov though it’s a mess with GM’s praying they end up with something.
RM: And that wraps up the second segment, we’ll be back shortly for our last segment.
RM: Welcome back to the third and final segment of this episode. Our final topic is a bit of a mixture regarding the importance of goaltending along with the playoff race. Yes we’re going to talk a bit of playoffs in November. Bite me. So we recently got some very big news from Chicago.
JV: That’s right. Chicago has lost starting goalie Corey Crawford until early April at least. Right now Chicago is 9th in the Western Conference. These next few days are crucial for Chicago management. A decision has to be made soon, will they acquire someone like Cam Talbot or let the Godla/Moran tandem take the reins?
RM: It’s crazy to think that because of this injury to Crawford that the Western Conference playoff race could be over before we hit the New Year. The top 8 teams in the West are competitive and the bottom six could all end up tanking depending on what decision Chicago makes this season. This begs the question: when are we going to see the fearsome West that ravaged the hockey world? Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver and Dallas, when are we going to see these teams become threats? Who is scared of these teams?
JV: It was a bit of an issue in the East though we’re seeing improvement. Even though the Hurricanes aren’t a threat they are winning games and allowing other teams to hit rock bottom for once. The West has it too easy right now. McDavid and the Oilers aren’t scared of going into California. They aren’t scared because they know their opponents plan on losing.
RM: Would you say the term “rebuild” is a bit of a joke among GM’s now?
JV: There was a theory and still is a theory that you can bring in this young talent over three seasons and become a powerhouse purely through the draft. It’s a lie. The cake is a lie. You’re team of under 24 year old players will not win you games, you won’t be competitive and the only thing keeping fans from picketing your house is the same phrase you’ve been uttering since 2016 “we’re up and coming”.
RM: Strong opinions there John. I do agree though that the line between a patient-building GM and a lazy, uncompetitive GM is becoming smaller and smaller for some. The step from “rebuilding” to competing is a bit step and if you don’t commit yourself you’ll end getting widdled off because you aren’t making the progress you thought you would. On that note we’ll wrap it up here and say until next time on Eye of the Panther.