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Anton Levtchi Leaving the Florida Panthers



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Anton Levtchi, shown playing for the Florida Panthers during the preseason, was placed on unconditional waivers on Monday with the expectation he is headed back to play in Finland. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers placed Former Finnish elite league star Anton Levtchi on waivers Monday in order to terminate his contract.

It is expected that Levtchi will be returning home to play in Finland.

Levtchi, 27, was signed by the Panthers this past summer after he led Liiga with 26 goals and 61 points playing for Tampere Tappara — a team partially owned by Florida captain Sasha Barkov.

Barkov and Levtchi have been friends for a long time, both growing up playing in the Tappara program.

When Levtchi made his NHL debut with the Panthers in December, Barkov was obviously excited for his boyhood friend.

The two met each other for the first time when they were just 3.

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“It is like your own brother is debuting for the same team, so it’s special for me to see him in the locker room,” Barkov said.

“It is one of those things you remember throughout your career that you play with the guy you grew up with. So I’m really excited for him. He is a really skilled guy.”

Levtchi only lasted two games with the Panthers and did not register a point.

In 35 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, Levtchi scored eight goals with 17 points.

“He has a high hockey IQ,” Barkov said. “He sees the plays that not too many guys see. He is a really skilled guy and you never know what he is going to do. He can shoot the puck and he is really good offensively.”

Florida coach Paul Maurice put Levtchi next to Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart on the third line, hoping to get something going.

“He is a great passer, he has a good shot, he competes, so he has everything we need,” Lundell said. “It’s just all about the execution. We need to go out there and play our game, be aggressive and throw some pucks on the net. …

”I think he knows what it takes. The game is a little faster, but overall, he needs to play to his strengths and enjoy it. He is a good player, he knows how to play, it’s just about going out there and having fun.”



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