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Big Week for the Florida Panthers … Leads into Another



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Gus Forsling, left, celebrates with Vladimir Tarasenko after the newly-acquired forward scored his second goal on Saturday night against the Flames. Forsling signed an eight-year extension on Thursday. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

It was certainly a very busy week for the Florida Panthers.

Upcoming games against Dallas, Carolina and Tampa Bay means there is no time to rest, either.

Yet it is hard to turn the page on the week Florida just had as general manager Bill Zito was one of the busiest executives in professional sports.

Not only did the Florida GM land Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo, among others, prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Friday afternoon, but he also signed defenseman Gus Forsling to a max-term contract extension below expected market value.

Jonah Gadjovich signed on for two more years as well.

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On the ice, the Panthers lost 2-1 on Thursday to the Philadelphia Flyers to end their six-game winning streak — but they may have started another with a 5-1 thrashing of the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Tarasenko scored twice in a three-point night with Okposo arriving in time from Buffalo to watch his new team in person.

It was a busy, busy week in Pantherland.

As usual, we covered every angle of it here at FHN.


Okposo was a little emotional Saturday when he spoke of the difficult decision to leave his family behind in Buffalo.

But, after not making the playoffs since 2016 and it appearing as if his career may soon come to an end, he would have regretted not going for the Stanley Cup.

And he thinks the Florida Panthers are a team who can win it.

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— There are a lot of ties between the Panthers and Flames, and there were a number of dinners and hangouts on Friday night. But when the game started, all friendships were put aside.

— With his family in the building, Tarasenko had himself a very special night Saturday against the Flames.

— Don’t forget to come on over to the FHN YouTube Channel where we have more Florida Panthers videos than you could ever watch.

Some of this week’s highlights include initial talks with Tarasenko and Okposo, as well as plenty of great stuff from coach Paul Maurice.

Subscribe to the channel — it’s free! — and you will get contacted when new stuff pops up. Like, every day.


Aaron Ekblad left Saturday’s game after colliding with Tarasenko in the first period — but not before he passed Jonathan Huberdeau for second in games played in franchise history.

Ekblad and Sasha Barkov are the two longest-tenured Panthers — and Ekblad says he takes an immense amount of pride every time he slips on that jersey.

— Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Jacob Markstrom were back in Sunrise to take on the Panthers.

— Even though he did not find the scoresheet, Tarasenko was impressive in his Florida debut.


Zito and the Panthers kept adding at the Deadline, bolstering the team’s depth without giving up much aside for some draft picks.

— The Panthers claimed defenseman Tobias Bjornfot off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, as well as acquired veteran goalie Magnus Hellberg.

— You had a lot of questions before the Trade Deadline, and we had your answers. The Mailbag is now open!


The Panthers did not score much on Thursday against the Flyers — but what a day it was for Forsling.

Tarasenko was all smiles when he joined the Panthers for the first time.

The Panthers stole him, too.

Anthony Stolarz proves you can go home again. And win there, too.

— The Panthers celebrated the 2000s on Thursday night. It was a dark decade for the franchise, but they were never boring. Trust me. I was there for most of it.


The Panthers got Tarasenko and Zito had no plans on slowing down.

— Need a hero from Tuesday night’s win in Jersey? How about Nick Cousins.


The Panthers faced a very motivated Devils team after they fired Lindy Ruff — but Cousins and Stolarz were just too much.

— Madison Square Garden was fired up for a heavyweight bout Monday, but the Panthers quieted everyone down. Again.

— Could the Panthers and Tarasenko be a fit? Maybe…


Sam Reinhart and Barkov helped propel the Panthers to a huge win over the Rangers.

— By the way, did you see that move Barkov made? The one where he juggled the puck on the blade of his stick before feeding Reinhart for a goal. It’s something. Really.

Brandon Montour, who is due a new contract, was the Second Star of the Week by the NHL.

— Could the Panthers and Rangers be a preview of the Eastern Conference finals?

— There was a report the Panthers had interest in Calgary (now Vegas) defenseman Noah Hanifin. Did they? Word is, they did not.



  • When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas
  • 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, NHL app
  • Last Season: Dallas won 2-0
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Stars 4 (Dec. 6). At Dallas: Tuesday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 25-21-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday @ Carolina, 7 p.m.

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