Panthers goaltending pipeline

By William Slawter






Season

For the
last six years, the Florida Panthers had been centering their goaltending plans
around franchise netminder Roberto Luongo. But they recently traded the all-star
goalie to Vancouver in a package deal that brought in right wing Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman
Brian Allen and 25-year-old goaltender Alex Auld. Faced with not having a clear
No. 1 goalie, Florida also acquired
veteran Ed Belfour and journeyman Craig Anderson to a group that already
included 26-year-old Jean-Marc Pelletier.



While they
sort out the near-term, the Panthers have a handful of potential prospects
developing within their organization. None of the veteran goalies are inked to
any long-term contracts, which means a home-grown netminder could be just a year
or two away from making an impact. Below is a look at who is coming down the
pipeline.



David
Shantz


Drafted
37th overall 2004

Shantz was
the first goaltender
from the OHL taken in the 2004 Draft, after a strong season in which he led the
Mississauga Ice Dogs to the Eastern Division Championship. He followed with a
disappointing 2004-05 campaign, when he went through a stretch of losing 15 of
22 games and was eventually traded to Peterborough. He would come back strong
after joining the Petes in 2005-06, posting a 31-14-2-1 record with a 2.87 GAA
and .915 save percentage.



During
his last season of junior hockey Shantz continued to refine his skills,
developing his ability to read the play and control rebounds. He led the Petes
to the Memorial Cup. This helped
garner him his first professional contract this summer. Now assigned to the
Florida Everblades of the ECHL, Shantz is splitting time in net with 25-year-old
Carolina’s Hurricane Craig Kowalski. After five games he is 4-1-0 with a 2.20
GAA and .922 save percentage. He
ranks 12th in save percentage in the league.

SeasonLeagueTeamGamesRecordGAASave %Shutouts
2004-05OHLMississauga2710-10-42.84.9090
2005-06OHLPeterborough4931-14-32.87.9152
2006-07ECHLFlorida54-1-02.20.9220



Tyler
Plante


Drafted
32nd overall 2005



This
19-year-old puckstopper hails from Brandon, Manitoba where he is spending his
third full season with his hometown Wheat Kings of the WHL. Listed at 6’3, 207
lbs., Plante uses a combination of size and skill to create a formidable
obstacle. He came on strong in 2004-05, earning honors as the WHL’s rookie of
the year, as well as top goaltender in the Eastern Conference. This
past August
, he had a strong showing at Team Canada’s National Junior
Development Camp as one of
six
goaltenders invited to attend, but is not considered a favorite for
the squad.



After 18
games with Brandon so far this season, Plante has a 9-7-0-2 record with a 2.99
GAA and .908 save percentage. He ranks 11th in save percentage in the
league. The Panthers will need to
sign him by June 1, 2007, and there’s little question that they will do so.

SeasonLeagueTeamGamesRecordGAASave %Shutouts
2004-05WHLBrandon4834-11-22.58.9076
2005-06WHLBrandon6025-24-93.32.8982
2006-07WHLBrandon169-7-22.99.9080



Marc
Cheverie


Drafted
193rd overall 2006



After
posting a 23-9 record for the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey
League last season, Marc Cheverie was made a seventh round selection by the
Panthers in 2006. He posted solid numbers while playing 46 games last season, posting
a 2.54 GAA, .903 save percentage and four shutouts. At 6’2, 193 lbs. he
possesses large size for a young goaltender, yet remains athletic enough to
display above average quickness and reflexes.
He plays an aggressive style of goaltending and does not hesitate to challenge
the shooter.



Cheverie
is back in Nanaimo for 2006-07, where so far he has recorded a 7-2 record with a
3.61 GAA and .864 save percentage in nine games. He earned a shutout on Oct. 23.



Next year
Cheverie will attend Denver University, where fellow goaltender Peter Mannino
will be a senior.

SeasonLeagueTeamGamesRecordGAASave %Shutouts
2005-06BCHLNanaimo4623-9-02.54.9034
2006-07BCHLNanaimo97-2-03.61.8641



Brian
Foster


Drafted
161st overall 2005



Beyond
Plante and Shantz, Florida has two project goaltenders. Foster was Florida’s
second goalie taken in the 2005 draft, behind Plante. In 2005-06 he helped the
Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL capture the Clark Cup Championship while
obtaining a 12-9-3 record in 26 games. He held a 2.81 GAA and .903 save
percentage during last season. The 6’2 185 lb. netminder is known to have an
ability to stay calm in pressure situations.




Foster,
native of Pembroke,
New

Hampshire, is a freshman at the University of New Hampshire
. So far,
Foster has seen little ice time, playing backup to junior Kevin
Regan (BOS)
.
He played just six minutes in a rout of Colorado College. Foster stopped all four shots he faced. He’ll need to bide
his time.

SeasonLeagueTeamGamesRecordGAASave %Shutouts
2005-06USHLDes Moines2612-9-32.81.9030
2006-07NCAAUNH10-0-001.000

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