SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers could be without veteran forward Patric Hornqvist for a significant amount of time.
The 35-year-old suffered a concussion on Dec. 3 in Seattle after taking a high hit in passing from Daniel Sprong.
Hornqvist had to be attended to by head athletic trainer Dave DiNapoli and left the game with the Panthers promptly placing him on long-term injured reserve.
Despite Hornqvist skating with the team during practice multiple times last week, coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday that he does not see a return coming any time soon.
Hornqvist will satisfy the 24-day, 10-game rule to come off LTIR after Friday’s game against the host New York Islanders.
It does not sound like he will be back against the Canadiens, however.
”It was a significant injury and he has had a number of those injuries now, so this one is more serious,” Maurice said.
”He is not 25 anymore; he has had a big number of concussions.”
According to Maurice, this is the second time this season that Hornqvist has been in concussion protocol after he took a hit to the head.
In the first period of Florida’s win at San Jose in November, Sharks forward Luke Kunin did not receive any supplemental discipline for his illegal check to the head of Hornqvist.
Hornqvist missed the next three games following that hit.
Like Kunin, there was no supplemental discipline handed out to Sprong.
“I mean, just trying to make a hockey play, obviously not trying to hurt him,” Kunin said about the hit. “He was kind of reaching. I thought the initial contact was shoulder to shoulder, but I guess the ref saw something else.”
With Hornqvist on LTIR, the Panthers will continue getting much-needed salary cap relief as a large portion of his $5.3 million cap hit does not count against Florida’s cap number.
Florida is obviously in cap jail and would need to make a move to activate Anthony Duclair when he is ready — he has been skating since last week and took part in Wednesday’s morning skate — to come off LTIR.
Right now, if Duclair was activated (and he is not close to being ready), the Panthers would have plenty of cap space to work what with Hornqvist’s money off the cap.
With Hornqvist active and playing, Florida would not be able to take Duclair off of LTIR and would only be able to keep 20 players on the roster.
Right now, the Panthers are carrying the maximum 23 players.
Again, Duclair is not close to being ready to come back and play for the Panthers.
Maurice said Wednesday that Anton Lundell would return to the lineup after missing the past nine games.
Sasha Barkov and Radko Gudas both skated Wednesday but are not expected to return until following the Christmas break.
The Panthers returned Aleksi Heponiemi to AHL Charlotte with the expectation newly-acquired Givani Smith could join the Panthers later today.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
NEW JERSEY DEVILS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- National TV: TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4, Devils 2 (Dec. 17)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Devils lead 56-34-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Friday at New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m.