The Florida Panthers entered the final week of training camp Monday with three injured players back including veteran center Joe Thornton and rookie Anton Lundell.
Lundell, Florida’s first-round pick in 2020, had been out since sustaining an undisclosed injury during the team’s Prospect Showcase event north of Tampa. Thornton was missing from Florida’s second workout of training camp before returning Monday.
”I thought Joe skated fine, I thought Lundell skated very well,” Joel Quenneville said. “All the guys looked like they were moving well. We’ll see.”
Both Thornton and Lundell had been working out together the past week gearing up for their return.
Florida opens its season next Thursday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
Lundell and Thornton are not expected to play in Florida’s preseason game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday in Orlando although they could be in Thursday in Tampa.
“It feels good. I have been rehabbing and it was nice to get out there with the fellas and skate. It felt great,” said Thornton, the league’s active scoring leader.
Added Lundell: “It was pretty good to get back out there after a few weeks of watching from the other side of the rink. Yeah, it felt good to get back on the ice. I feel good, it’s great to be back and I want to get in good shape and show what I can do.”
Lundell was expected to compete for a spot on the 23-man roster to start the season and, with opening night still over a week away, he has plenty of time to do that. After a solid rookie camp and start to the prospect tournament, missing the time with injury was not ideal.
“It’s never fun to watch games from the stands,” Lundell said. “My goal was to come back stronger and that’s what I have been working on. I have been working hard the past few weeks and I feel great. I just need to get a few practices and I’ll be ready. I have been skating a lot. I think it’s coming.”
The Panthers also had forward Maxim Mamin back on the ice although he left practice early.
The team has been dealing with some minor bumps and bruises with a number of players remaining out including defensemen Gus Forsling and Lucas Carlsson as well as forward Carter Verhaeghe.
Quenneville said both Verhaeghe and Forsling would likely be back for Florida’s exhibition finale Saturday night in Sunrise but Carlsson was “a week or two away” which means Kevin Connauton, Matt Kiersted or Chase Priskie will start the season with the Panthers.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID
Lundell celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday and said he enjoyed the team’s off day.
After being in South Florida for about a month now, Lundell said he is acclimating to his new home and is being helped in that regard by his new teammates including countryman Sasha Barkov who invited Lundell to stay at his home in Boca Raton.
“I don’t think you can hate this place,” Lundell said of South Florida. “It’s pretty awesome. I have never been in a place like this and it’s really fun to live here and build on something bigger with the team. Just trust the process. … Everyone is so nice here and want to help.”
So, what kind of roommate is Sasha Barkov?
”He’s quiet,” Lundell said with a chuckle.
PRESEASON PANTHERS ON DECK
PANTHERS (4-0-0) V. TAMPA BAY (1-3-0)
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amway Arena, Orlando
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 5-3
- 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, Round 1: Tampa Bay won 4-2
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/Bally Sports