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Anthony Duclair Return to Florida Panthers is Close

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Anthony Duclair of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal during the first period of Game 1 against the Lightning on May 17 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

CORAL SPRINGS — The timeline for the return of Anthony Duclair to the Florida Panthers has always been sometime following the All-Star break.

On Sunday, despite wearing yellow no-contact gear, Duclair was a full participant in the team’s first practice coming out of their time off.

Duclair, who scored a career-high 30 goals for the Panthers last season, sustained an Achilles injury during the summer which needed surgery.

Florida Panthers left wing Anthony Duclair (10) celebrates his goal with the bench during the first period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

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Coach Paul Maurice said the Panthers hope to rid Duclair of his no-contact jersey sometime this week and continue ramping up his intensity moving forward.

“He had a good day today, got through it fine” Maurice said. “We will go real hard at it (Monday) in a controlled environment and if he gets through that, it is really up to him at that point. I don’t think cautious is the right word, we’re just trying to be as smart as we can with such a dangerous injury.

”When he says he is ready to go into a full-contact jersey, then he is ready. Physically, we feel he is pretty close.”

The Panthers are obviously in a salary cap crunch and only slid under the cap coming out of training camp due to Duclair’s $3 million coming off when he was placed on long-term injured reserve.

The only way Florida can add Duclair and continue to stay under the cap is to keep Patric Hornqvist ($5.3 million) on LTIR.

Hornqvist has been out since suffering his second concussion within a span of a month back in December.

He, too, was practicing in yellow on Sunday although he mostly did work with the goalies and on his own.

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Cats and Leafs

Is there a chance Hornqvist is out on LTIR all season so that the Panthers won’t have to trade anyone to keep Duclair in for the rest of the year?

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