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The Florida Panthers Wrap: Loss of Ekblad Brings Changes



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Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad models the new Reverse Retro jersey which was officially released on Thursday morning. Ekblad is currently on long-term injured reserve after being hurt Monday night in Boston. — Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers had an eventful second week to their season with three games — including their home opener against the Flyers — and the much-anticipated release of their newest Reverse Retro look.

The week did not start off all that great, however, as star defenseman Aaron Ekblad left Florida’s game in Boston in the second period with a groin injury.

Not only did Ekblad not return to the game, but he was placed on long-term injured reserve.

As we explained on Tuesday, Florida’s salary cap woes restricted them from having more than 20 players on their active roster so when Brandon Montour was ruled out of Monday’s game, Florida played with 17 skaters.

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When it comes to Ekblad, if he was going to miss a couple of weeks anyway, being put on LTIR — which means he has to miss 10 games and 24 days of action — at least frees up some precious salary cap space.

Ekblad is coming back so you cannot go nuts with the mirage of having some cap space now; the Panthers will have to answer for that later when Ekblad returns.

Again, worry about tomorrow when it gets here.


Eric Staal is now officially the newest member of the Florida Panthers as he signed a one-year deal with the team on Friday afternoon.

Florida being able to clear some salary cap space with Ekblad on LTIR allowed that to happen.

— We will preview today’s Islanders game with our GameDay special later this morning.


The Panthers did not score on the power play Friday night and the Tampa Bay Lightning did.

That was the difference.

Tampa Bay scored on its first and final power play opportunity and beat the Panthers. Again.

— Hear from the Florida Panthers throughout the season on the FHN YouTube Channel.

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Not only do we have the Panthers Postgames with George, but we also have postgame, pregame and post-practice reactions from coach Paul Maurice and various members of the team. The latest: Maurice and Staal.

Video from Friday’s game included Maurice, Sergei Bobrovsky, Rudolfs Balcers and Brandon Montour.


Staal was given a stick-tap salute at Friday’s morning skate as he and the Panthers were finally able to get a contract done.

As expected, it was a one-year deal worth $750,000.

— With the injury to Ekblad, that’s going to mean a lot of changing roles on the Florida blueline — and a lot more playing time for guys like Radko Gudas who welcomes it.

— Looking at Friday night’s game against the Lightning.


The big news around Pantherland — yes, the store — was the officially unveiling of the Reverse Retro jerseys for each NHL team.

ESPN and the Athletic both ranked Florida’s electric JetBlues as the best of the bunch.

For a little history lesson on Florida’s palm tree/hockey stick logo, check out Friday’s FHN Today.

— We took a dive into what was delaying Staal getting signed by the Panthers.


The Panthers had a couple of new banners hanging from the rafters and celebrated their home opener with a 4-3 win over the Flyers.

Carter Verhaeghe had himself another nice home opener.

— The Panthers have to live without Ekblad at least for a little while.

— General manager Bill Zito spoke about Ekblad being placed on LTIR and more on Wednesday morning.

— Speaking of the salary cap, this crunch may only be for this season. The Panthers should be in pretty good shape in 2023.


With Montour and Ekblad out of the lineup, would the Panthers come into Wednesday’s home opener with only 16 skaters?

No. That was never going to happen.


— The Panthers were shorthanded to start as they sustain their first loss of the season to the Bruins on Monday night.

Ekblad got hurt as Boston scored the go-ahead goal.

— Taking a look at the end of the Panthers’ first road trip of the season in Boston.

The Panthers did not have many goals in their first two games, but that does not mean their power play was ineffective. It actually looked pretty good early on.

Later in the week — minus Ekblad and Montour for a few games — and that was not necessarily the case.


Speaking of Ekblad, I sat down with him and captain Sasha Barkov (separately) and talked to them about being the two constants of all the changes going around the Panthers the past few years.

The two stars of the Panthers have thrived here in South Florida.

If you’re into math, Barkov is the longest-tenured Florida player in his 10th season with Ekblad second with nine.

Third? Believe it or not, it is Bobrovsky who is now in his fourth season with the Panthers.

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  • When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena; Sunrise
  • Tickets: HERE
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 3-0
  • This season (Florida 1-0): Florida 3, Islanders 1 (Oct. 13)
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 55-32-11, 8 ties

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