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Florida Panthers Pregame: Lucas Carlsson earning his spot on the team

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Florida Panthers defenseman Lucas Carlsson works the puck out of the corner in a game at FLA Live Arena earlier this season. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Ever since Lucas Carlsson made his Florida Panthers debut on Nov. 9 in New Jersey, he has been proving himself to be an NHL-caliber defenseman.

Acquired in the deal that sent Brett Connolly’s contract, along with Riley Stillman and Henrik Borgstrom, to the Chicago Blackhawks, Carlsson was expected to spend the majority of his season in the AHL this year.

“It’s been a challenge for sure,” Carlsson said. “Playing in this league is hard, it isn’t easy to get the call-up, but to this day, I’m happy with my season so far and I just hope I can keep it going.”

He got his opportunity and ran with it, becoming a mainstay on the third pairing alongside Brandon Montour throughout the month of December.

With Olli Juolevi also factoring into the lineup in January, Carlsson was in and out of the lineup after Brunette wanted to give Juolevi some looks.

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But then, another opportunity came when Gus Forsling was placed on the Covid protocol list, and again, when Juolevi was placed on injured reserve during the Panthers’ most recent road trip.

“It’s been fun to play more consistently,” Carlsson said. “To get in there and help the team win hockey games, it’s been great.”

Florida leaned on Carlsson heavily and he delivered.

In the final four games of Florida’s five-game road trip, Carlsson played 47:49 of ice time while recording an assist and registering a plus-4.

“He’s a very poised player,” Aaron Ekblad said. “I like getting on the ice with him in the odd time that I do, I never feel that he’s out of position or scrambling in any way.

“I think with the puck, he does a great job making that first pass. He does all of the things you’d like to see from a good young defenseman.”

Carlsson has eight points (two goals, six assists) and has been quietly making his mark on a Panthers team that currently ranks as one of the best in the league.

With Forsling questionable to return to the lineup after skating for the first time since being placed on Covid protocols on Thursday morning, Carlsson could play a big role when Florida plays against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Morning Skate Updates

  • Spencer Knight will start for the Panthers on Thursday against the Golden Knights per Brunette. Sergei Bobrovsky will back up.
  • Forsling skated for the first time since being placed on the Covid protocol list, he will be re-evaluated later in the day and will likely be a game-time decision. Chase Priskie and Matt Kiersted (taxi squad) are options to draw in the lineup if he cannot go.
  • Patric Hornqvist and Juolevi both skated after the regular group, both are still out with their respective injuries.
  • Jonas Johansson was activated from the Covid protocols list and skated for the first time, he was said to be out of quarantine at the beginning of the road trip, but could not join the team in Canada.
  • Noel Acciari skated with the main group this morning, skating alongside Frank Vatrano and Joe Thornton as an extra forward line during practice.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

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