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Florida Panthers Fast-Forward: Gus Forsling Ready to Become a Star



Forsling panthers
Florida Panthers defenseman Gus Forsling has the opportunity to show off his skillset this coming season what with Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour expected to miss at least the first couple of weeks. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

With injuries creating multiple holes on the Florida Panthers blueline, Gus Forsling has a chance to make a name for himself as one of a top defensemen in the entire NHL.

Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad are likely to miss at least the first few weeks of the season, leaving Forsling as the No. 1 guy in Sunrise.

He has proven he can handle it — whether folks around the NHL know it or not.

The 27-year-old averaged the 26th-most minutes out of any player in the NHL last season, playing 23:26 in his first full season on Florida’s top pairing.

Forsling picked up 13 goals and 41 points in 82 games, manning the second power play unit while shining as one of the Panthers’ best defensive defensemen.

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He added another two goals and eight points in 21 playoff games while playing a critical defensive role during the Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Ekblad and Montour’s absence leaves a spot wide open on the top unit while leaving him as the team’s clear No. 1 defenseman until they get back.

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And it is an opportunity that is coming at the perfect time for Forsling, who is entering the final year of a three-year contract worth $2.6 million he signed in 2021.

That contract paid dividends for the Panthers from the moment he signed it, as Forsling proved his worth time and time again when Ekblad went down with injuries in the last three seasons.

Now, it could be his turn to cash in.

With the NHL’s free agency market set to surge with the league’s salary cap expected to go up, Forsling has the chance to position himself as one of the best blueliners on the market.

Forsling has already proven that he can step up and take on a bigger role in the face of injuries multiple times.

He scored eight of his 10 goals in 2021-22 after Ekblad went down with a leg injury on March 28, leading all NHL defensemen in that span.

In 2022-23, he averaged 24:32 with two goals, seven points and a plus/minus of plus-eight when Ekblad missed 12 of the season’s first 14 games.

But the opportunity 2023-24 presents Forsling pins him in a unique spot.

Forsling panthers

D Gus Forsling, Florida Panthers — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

With Montour joining Ekblad on IR to start the year and Radko Gudas signing with the Anaheim Ducks in the offseason, Forsling has to be the guy on a relatively thin defensive core.

It could be a chance for Forsling to fully showcase his offensive potential with the top power play spot seemingly wide open.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson was brought in to compete for that role but the 13-year veteran will not have an easy time winning it.

Forsling fancies himself as a stay-at-home defenseman, using his unique combination of agility and speed to cover as much ground as possible in the defensive zone, but he has shown time and time again that he can use those tools in the offensive zone as well.

His speed allows him to jump up in the rush while being able to get back quickly and mark his man while his shot has continued to get better as his Panthers tenure has gone on.

Florida is going to need him to carry the load — at least for a couple months — but he has what it takes to continue his path from waiver pickup to star.


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It would be nice to see Mahura have a similar career trajectory. Claimed off waivers, limited opportunity to shine with Cats until an injury. Now he has two out for him to step up into a similar role as Forsling. If Carlsson and Kiersted could do it as well, there might be a long term future on the Panthers blue line. Forsling was a gem find off of waivers. Hopefully Mahura turns into one as well. And Zito can pluck some size and aggressiveness to clear the crease on waiver day this season. Send the four monkeys to the minors.

Cats and Leafs

I wasn’t as impressed with Mahura and don’t believe his trajectory will mirror Montour’s or Forsling’s. He’s slower, not as agile, and I just don’t think as skilled. Maybe he ends up as a third line D-man, or maybe with all the competition at camp he gets knocked off the roster. I hope I’m wrong…

Last edited 1 month ago by Cats and Leafs
Cats and Leafs

Once Ekblad and Montour come back, four spots are locked on D. Those two, Forsling and newly acquired Mikolla who signed for three years. The fifth spot is Oliver Ek’s to lose, so five people including Mahura, Reilly and Kulikov will probably be fighting for one starting position. I think Reilly will impress and has the potential to be the next Forsling / Montour type find. Mahura has an uphill battle.


Mikkola, OEL, and Reilly shouldn’t be on the roster. And if they are, it shows how bad the outlook for the Panthers is without Ekblad and Montour. Also makes the re-signing of Carlsson pointless, as he’ll be claimed off waivers. This defense will be one of the smallest and least physical.

Cats and Leafs

It’s temporary. Other than Mikolla and Ekblad, there is not one defenseman signed past this upcoming year. We would think Montour and Forsling get extensions, but anyone else will have to impress to get signed for ’24-’25 and beyond.


By signing the defensemen they have, acquiring the forwards they have, and trading the one expendable asset they had for a bag of pucks, they have wasted a year of this core being together. With the cap increasing significantly the next couple years, and players starting their downward slides around 30 years of age now, this core has two, maybe three years together before it’s time to rebuild. And that’s IF they can re-sign Reinhart, Bennett, Forsling, Montour, and Verhaeghe. Because they are as much a part of this core as Barkov, Tkachuk, Lundell, Ekblad, and to an extent Luostarinen.… Read more »


Forsling wasn’t impressive when he first arrived, but as he has gotten more opportunities, he has risen to the occasion.


I think your sort of contradting your point a bit, as I completely agree that Forsling has shined as a top tier defensive defenseman, maybe top three, and his offensive game is greatly improved as well, Yet he does so without being physical or big., Things you claim are necessary to be successful for a defenseman. Well forsling is proof you can be an extremely effective defensive defenseman without being “physical”


A team full of Forslings would be manhandled in the playoffs. Forsling type defensemen are complimentary style types to the big, more physical type who clear the crease. Not replacements. I haven’t contradicted myself.


Well i welcome Anyone who seems like they’re going to be engaged year round,. We may not always agree but it seems. We’re both pretty big panthers fans. You seem very knowledgeable and passionate about the team, I look forward to
Hearing your opinions throughout the season. Go cats!!!

Last edited 1 month ago by surveyjay

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