The timeline of Anthony Duclair’s return to the Florida Panthers lineup has now been sped up.
According to coach Paul Maurice, Duclair skated for the first time since having surgery to repair his Achilles tendon.
Although Maurice did not have a set time for Duclair’s return, he noted “we’re talking about weeks and no longer talking about months.”
Duclair was injured during the offseason and had surgery soon afterward.
“You miss him, but when you are healthy, you think there are enough pieces there,” Maurice said. “When you start to feel it is when you are five or six down and you start to think ‘it would be nice to a guy who can score 30 goals and skate like the wind.’ Which any team would want.
“But because of the type of injury and the severity of it, there isn’t any coming back early. He has to get trained again and get back into hockey shape. But he is on the mend.’’
Duclair’s return is not imminent by any means but he should ramp up his skating over the next few weeks as he starts getting into hockey shape again.
When he is able to start practicing with the Panthers is unknown, but it would not be surprising to see him out there in the next couple of weeks — perhaps when the Christmas break is over.
Duclair has been expected to be ready sometime around or after the All-Star weekend in late January so a return to playing in games in February is not out of the question.
Of course, the Panthers are still in salary cap jail and are using both Duclair and Patric Hornqvist being on LTIR to keep more than 20 players on the active roster.
With Hornqvist practicing on Wednesday, he appears to be on track to return after Christmas when his 10-game and 24-day LTIR requirement is met.
That means the Panthers will have to make some more roster moves — and then make even more when Duclair is ready to come back.
Florida not only had Hornqvist on the ice Wednesday, but Radko Gudas practiced as well.
Spencer Knight is back and will be in uniform tonight with the Panthers sending Alex Lyon back to Charlotte.
Anton Lundell, Maurice said, is over his illness but is still dealing with the unknown upper-body injury which forced him out of the game against Vancouver on XXX.
Maurice said Chris Tierney was in concussion protocol after being knocked out of Tuesday’s game in the second period; Colin White was listed as day-to-day although Maurice warned “it may be longer.”
Carter Verhaeghe missed Tuesday with an illness and Maurice said he hoped he could go against the Penguins.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Penguins lead 54-35-7, 4 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at New Jersey Devils