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Florida Panthers GameDay

GameDay No. 12: Lines, Betting Odds for Panthers at Kings

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After a strong training camp and start to his season at Charlotte, Aleksi Heponiemi was the first forward to be called up from the AHL after Patric Hornqvist was hurt Thursday in San Jose. — Roger Lee Photograper (561) 866-2000

With the Florida Panthers having back-to-back games in Southern California against the Kings and Ducks, it was assumed they would bring up an extra forward just in case.

Florida currently has the salary cap space and the roster room for a call-up and, once Patric Hornqvist went down after getting hit in the face Thursday night, that assumption became reality.

Aleksi Heponiemi had a strong showing in training camp and a good start to his season in Charlotte so he was deserving of being the first forward recalled from the AHL.

Heponiemi is not expected to draw into the lineup on Saturday night against Los Angeles with Hornqvist out and coach Paul Maurice saying Colin White will return after taking Thursday night.

Heponiemi could be in Sunday against Anaheim.

As far as Heponiemi goes, in normal times, he would have made the Panthers out of training camp.

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Had Florida carried 22 or 23 players on its opening night roster, Heponiemi would have remained with the team.

But because of cap issues, Florida could only keep 20 players — so Florida had to hold its collective breath and hope Heponiemi cleared waivers to be assigned to the Checkers.

In six games with Charlotte so far, Heponiemi has two goals and four points as he has continued his strong play from training camp and the preseason to the Checkers.

“With the players we have here, it is so hard to crack the team,” Heponiemi said during the preseason.

“You really have to earn a spot here. Nothing is given. It is not easy. If you play good enough you will make this team and if you do not, well, you won’t.

”So you just have to work, work and work and keep moving forward. Being able to play some NHL games certainly helps when it comes to being more comfortable, having some confidence and being around this team helps as well. You really get a feel for these guys.”

When Aaron Ekblad went on long-term injured reserve, the Panthers were able to use the additional cap space created to sign Eric Staal as well as add defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Matt Kiersted to the active roster — leaving one spot open.

Heponiemi fills that opening — for now.

With Ekblad expected to return next weekend against Edmonton, the Panthers are going to have to make some roster moves to get cap compliant although Hornqvist’s injury could mean a trip to LTIR in order to keep everything going for at least another couple of weeks.

The Panthers have made no indication they will do that with Maurice saying Saturday that Hornqvist was day-to-day.

But, if Florida were to activate Ekblad and place Hornqvist on LTIR, the team would at least be able to carry two extra players on its roster through December — likely sending back one of Carlsson and Kiersted while keeping a forward.

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT LOS ANGELES KINGS

  • When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m.
  • Where: Crypto.Com Arena, Los Angeles
  • 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
  • DraftKings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-125); Puck line (-1.5, +180); Over/Under 6.5 (-125/+105)
  • Last season: Los Angeles won 2-0
  • All-time regular season series: Los Angeles leads 23-14-0, 3 ties

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

38 Rudolfs Balcers // 9 Sam Bennett // 13 Sam Reinhart

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 6 Colin White

94 Ryan Lomberg // 12 Eric Staal // 21 Nick Cousins

42 Gus Forsling // 62 Brandon Montour

28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas

3 Matt Kiersted // 18 Marc Staal

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

30 Spencer Knight

Scratch: Lucas Carlsson, Aleksi Heponiemi

Injured: Anthony Duclair (LTIR-Achilles), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR-groin), Patric Hornqvist (d2d)

PROJECTED LOS ANGELES KINGS LINEUP

9 Adrian Kempe // 11 Anze Kopitar // 13 Gabriel Vilardi

12 Trevor Moore // 24 Phillip Danault // 33 Viktor Arvidsson

22 Kevin Fiala // 89 Rasmus Kupari // 38 Carl Grundstrom

48 Brendan Lemieux // 46 Blake Lizotte // 34 Arthur Kaliyev

44 Mikey Anderson // 8 Drew Doughty

50 Sean Durzi // 3 Matt Roy

2 Alexander Edler // 26 Sean Walker

32 Jonathan Quick

40 Cal Petersen

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