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Florida Panthers May Play Shorthanded Due to Salary Cap Crunch

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Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice may find his team playing shorthanded at times this season due to salary cap constraints. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — It is not like Paul Maurice did not know what he was getting into when it came to the Florida Panthers and their salary cap situation.

And, even if he thought the team would have cleared things up as the offseason wore on, the new coach of the Panthers did not seem fazed when asked about his roster limitations on Monday morning.

The Panthers set their initial roster for the 2022-23 NHL season on Monday evening and will start with 20 players.

That means 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies — so, everyone on the roster will dress each night.

It will make for a lonely press box.

Florida, like most teams, usually starts the season with two extra forwards and a spare defenseman.

Not this season.

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Florida will come in just under the NHL salary cap limit of $82.5 million and will have to get creative if any player gets hurt.

Normal bumps and bruises usually means a night off for the player and a chance for someone else to step in and get a chance.

The Panthers, at least right now, do not have such luxuries.

If a player on game night, for instance, was to get hurt during the morning skate or in warmups, Florida may have no choice but to go into the game down a skater.

It has happened before — the Vegas Golden Knights were hamstrung a few times last season — and will likely happen again.

Toronto is also starting off with 20 players due to its cap situation.

“These new cap constraints are coming to every team,” Maurice said on Monday morning. “We’re all going to have to learn how to play with 19. It’s just going to be a normal operating routine. There have been a bunch of teams who have had to do it consistently. We’ll just have to deal with it. It’s not a big deal. Players get used to it, we all get used to it.”

The Panthers do not expect things to be as dire as some other situations as if it looks like a player would miss substantial time (or at least a week or two) it could use the long-term injured reserve option.

While Anthony Duclair was placed on LTIR and is expected to miss months after having Achilles tendon surgery over the offseason, it can also be used more in the short term despite its terminology.

A player placed on LTIR not only frees up cap space to allow additional players to join the team, but said player only has to miss 24 days and 10 games of action.

Again, if it looks like a player is going to miss a week or two, LTIR may be an option used in order to not play shorthanded during that time.

Normal bumps and bruises, however, would mean going without unless the team was able to get an emergency call-up in time for the game.

As it stands right now, Eric Staal was not able to be added to the Florida roster due to a lack of space.

The Panthers would have loved to open with 23 players as is usually the case but they simply do not have that kind of flexibility.

Perhaps in the future, but not now.

“We are going to have to manage it for a while,” Bill Zito said, “until situations present themselves to get some more players up.”

THE FLORIDA PANTHERS ROSTER

FORWARDS (12)

Colin White; Sam Bennett; Sam Reinhart; Anton Lundell; Sasha Barkov; Matthew Tkachuk; Nick Cousins; Carter Verhaeghe; Eetu Luostarinen; Rudolfs Balcers; Patric Hornqvist; Ryan Lomberg. LTIR: Anthony Duclair; IR: Zac Dalpe, Justin Sourdif.

DEFENSEMEN (6)

Aaron Ekblad; Radko Gudas; Marc Staal; Gus Forsling; Brandon Montour; Josh Mahura. IR: Matt Kiersted

GOALIES (2)

Sergei Bobrovsky; Spencer Knight

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS

  • When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: UBS Arena; Elmont, N.Y. 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM/SiriusXM
  • Last season: Florida won 3-0
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 54-32-11, 8 ties
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