SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers will play hockey that counts for the first time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final as they open the 2023-24 NHL season on Thursday in St. Paul, Minn.
On Sunday, Florida came one step closer to finalizing their Opening Night roster as three more players — Zac Dalpe, Casey Fitzgerald and John Ludvig — were placed on waivers.
With the roster being set today at 5 p.m., it looks like rookies Justin Sourdif and Mackie Samoskevich are going to be with the Panthers when they take on the Wild later this week.
Although things can change, and neither Sourdif nor Samoskevich are subjugated to waivers, things look good for those two — and deservedly so.
Both Samoskevich and Sourdif showed they belong with the Panthers and whether it is this week or later on, they will be a factor on this team moving forward.
— A big part of the Florida Panthers y’all know and love came when Bill Zito signed his first free agent class three years ago today. Radko Gudas, Carter Verhaeghe, Ryan Lomberg and Alex Wennberg helped the Panthers in 2021 — with some, obviously, helping out beyond that season.
— The Panthers closed the preseason Saturday with a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and went 4-4 in games few will remember by this time next week.
Some bad news came out of the exhibition season, however, as Sam Bennett got hurt in the second period Thursday in Tampa. He was seen coming out of the locker room Saturday in a walking boot with coach Paul Maurice saying he could be out a few weeks.
— Also on Saturday, the Panthers lost 2018 first-round pick Grigori Denisenko on waivers to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Or did they? On Sunday, Vegas turned around and put Denisenko back on waivers meaning the Panthers could get him back. Stay tuned.
— Anthony Stolarz will be the backup to Sergei Bobrovsky to start the season as Spencer Knight will begin in Charlotte with the AHL Checkers. This will give Knight an opportunity to get in a ton of playing time — and it was part of the plan all along.
— More on Stolarz today at 10 a.m.
— The Panthers and Lightning started their rivalry in 1993 but it took some time to really get going. Now, it is one of the more contentious rivalries in the game.
— As the Panthers whittled down their roster, we got what could be the first look at what their forward lines will look like on Thursday. Minus Bennett, probably.
— The return of the Panthers means a lot of new video up on the FHN YouTube Channel.
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PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MINNESOTA WILD
- When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
- Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- This season: Florida @ Minnesota, Thursday; Minnesota @ Florida, Jan. 19
- All-time regular season series: Minnesota leads 18-10-2, 1 tie
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Winnipeg Jets, 4 p.m.