SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers made their first cuts to their training camp roster on Tuesday a day after playing a preseason doubleheader against the visiting Nashville Predators.
As expected, all five players who will play junior hockey this season have been returned to their respective clubs.
Florida’s training camp roster is now at 54 players.
Gracyn Sawchyn was the highest-profile prospect returned on Tuesday as he was Florida’s top draft pick (second round) in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Florida also returned forwards Josh Davies and Sandis Vilmanis as well as defensemen Marek Alscher and Luke Coughlin.
All five players took part in the preseason doubleheader but with junior seasons already up and running, the Panthers took mind to get them back to their teams.
“If you drafted a guy in the top three and he may make the jump from junior to the NHL, those guys might stay,’’ coach Paul Maurice said. “We are inclined to give our young players who had really good camps back to their teams earlier rather than later.”
In Game 1, Alscher played 16:58 with three hits and a shot on goal; Vilmanis got 11:41 with two shot attempts.
In the nightcap, Coughlin got 18:56 of ice time with a shot and three hits. Davies played 16:48 with two shots and two hits while Sawchyn played 13:26 with a shot on goal.
Getting a chance to spend four days at an NHL training camp — not to mention time at development camp and Florida’s rookie showcase — should be beneficial moving forward.
“There are a lot of teams that won’t play their junior players in an exhibition game,” Maurice said when asked about the prospects. “They get a handful of days in camp and off they go.
“To get an NHL exhibition out of junior hockey is a great learning experience for them. Come back to camp next year and they may know they’re going back to junior, but it all builds so when they turn pro and come to camp, they are looking to make the team.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
PRESEASON AT CAROLINA HURRICANES
- When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: PNC Bank Arena, Raleigh
- TV/Radio: None
- Streaming: FloridaPanthers.com
LOOKING AHEAD FOR THE PANTHERS
- Friday: Preseason vs. Carolina, 6 p.m.
- Sunday: Preseason vs. Ottawa at Sydney, Nova Scotia; 4 p.m. (NHLN)
- Oct. 3: Preseason vs. Tampa Bay at Orlando Arena, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 5: Preseason at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 7: Preseason vs. Tampa Bay, 6 p.m.
- Oct. 12: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season at Minnesota Wild (BSF)
- Oct. 19: 2023-24 Home Opener vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (BSF)