SUNRISE — Even after two hip injuries, Florida Panthers prospect John Ludvig is not afraid to get physical.
The 6-foot-1, 214-pound defenseman has blocked six shots and thrown three hits in his first two preseason games as he looks to make an impression on the Panthers.
“I definitely want to keep my body healthy but that is part of my game,” Ludvig said.
“I am never going to lose that and that’s always going to be there for me.”
Health has been a struggle for Ludvig over the past two seasons.
He played a combined 57 regular season games over the last two years, putting up three goals and 17 assists.
But his value comes with his physicality and his defensive ability.
The 2023-24 season is a “coming out party” of sorts, as Panthers coach Paul Maurice sees it, for Ludvig to prove what he’s got to the coaching staff after having limited opportunities to do so due to the injuries.
So far, so good.
“He is one of those guys in the first three or four days of training camp who is going to work real hard,” Maurice said.
“But there is an edge to his game, a physicality to his game that we can’t really find in practices and it has to be found in real games against real opponents.“
The 23-year-old finds himself with a unique opportunity.
Florida has a couple spots on the blue line which are seemingly up for grabs after injuries to Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour, as well as the departures of Marc Staal and Radko Gudas in free agency.
Ludvig is very much a dark horse in this race, but Panthers general manager Bill Zito has said numerous times that the best players will play.
And Ludvig has looked like one of the best at times.
“All you can do is work your hardest every single day and showcase yourself the best way you can,” Ludvig said.
“You have to try to put it out of your hands and do everything you can to try to make the team.”
Ludvig will be one of many names to watch as Florida continues its preseason.
For the next two games, Panthers coach Paul Maurice plans on dressing a larger contingent of young players on the fringe of the NHL roster who are fighting for spots.
That means Ludvig likely gets another look Friday night against the Hurricanes.
“This is really, in some ways, the main part of the trial for all these guys,” Maurice said. “This is the big time for these guys.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS (2-1) ON DECK
PRESEASON VS CAROLINA HURRICANES (2-0)
- When: Friday, 6 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Radio: None
- Streaming: FloridaPanthers.com
- Previous Exhibition Games: Florida 5, Nashville 0 (Sept. 25); Florida 5, Nashville 2 (Sept. 25); Carolina 4, Florida 1 (Sept. 27)
LOOKING AHEAD FOR THE PANTHERS
- Sunday: Preseason vs. Ottawa at Sydney, Nova Scotia; 4 p.m. (NHLN)
- Tuesday: Preseason vs. Tampa Bay at Orlando Arena, 7 p.m.
- Thursday: Preseason at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 7: Preseason vs. Tampa Bay, 6 p.m.
- Oct. 12: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season at Minnesota Wild (BSF)
- Oct. 19: 2023-24 Home Opener vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (BSF)