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Florida Panthers Prospects: Kiersted makes his way back to NHL

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Florida panthers prospect kiersted
Matt Kiersted, left, gets some instruction from Sam Bennett during the Florida Panthers second win of the season against the New York Islanders in October. // Roger Lee Photography (561) 866-2000

On Tuesday, the Florida Panthers called up Matt Kiersted to the NHL roster. The rookie defenseman prospect has six points (2-4, 6) in 16 AHL games this year.

This isn’t Kiersted’s first stint in the NHL — he started his career with seven games down the stretch in 2021 for the Panthers after signing as an undrafted free agent from the University of North Dakota.

“He came in and played some pretty good hockey for us,” Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said.

“He was with us through the playoff run and we got to see him every day and he got to camp and had a good camp. From what we were told from [the Charlotte Checkers] he was playing at a really high level, so I’m excited to see his growth.”

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Kiersted also had a two-game stint for the Panthers this season, which saw him score his first NHL point with an assist in Florida’s 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Oct. 16.

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“Every day, I’m still growing as a player and learning how to be a pro,” Kiersted said. “Little things like sleeping more and taking care of the body. It’s a long season with the pro schedule, so I think every day I’m getting better.”

Different it is. Last year at North Dakota, Kiersted played in 29 games before signing with the Panthers.

He played well in those games, recording 22 points with three goals from the blueline.

“I think it was a great experience for him and he probably wasn’t ready at the time to get into all of those games,” Brunette said. “But to be around the group and to play those games down the stretch … I think that really helped his growth and maturity as a player.”

To start the season, Kiersted played two games at the NHL level, but he played his last 16 in Charlotte. He was in the lineup and played 21 shifts in Florida’s stunning 5-4 comeback win against the Capitals on Tuesday night.

As for playing in Charlotte, Kiersted sees a good learning opportunity.

“Just going in there and being able to play more minutes and being on the team and being engaged and playing a lot of games, it’s taught me a little bit of the speed of the game but also the pro style of hockey,” Kiersted said.

The Checkers have a unique situation as well, with the team being shared by the Florida Panthers and the Seattle Kraken.

That wasn’t a distraction for Kiersted.

“At the beginning, it was kind of split between Florida and Seattle guys as far as who you’d hang out with,” he said. “But we did some team building stuff and now we’re a pretty close group, we don;t really think about the Seattle and Florida guys, it’s all just one team down there.”

Now, with the Panthers sitting near the top of the league, Kiersted is ready for the excitement of the NHL game.

“I’m obviously excited to join the team at any time, but it’s a great group of guys here on the team,” Kiersted said. “So to be able to join them nd go and play with them, I’m very excited.”

Other Prospect News From This Week

  • Aleksi Heponiemi was called up to the Florida Panthers this week following a lower-body injury to Anthony Duclair. He had three points (one goal, two assists) in three games this week, totalling for four goals and 11 points in 18 games with AHL Charlotte.
  • Mackie Samoskevich and Ty Smilanic were both named to USA Hockey’s World Junior camp roster. Samoskevich led all Panthers collegiate prospects with three points (one goal, two assists) in two games this week, while Smilanic leads all Quinnipiac skaters in goals with seven.
  • Justin Sourdiif had another monster week for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, putting up four points. He has 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 17 games and is considered a favorite to make Team Canada’s World Junior roster according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
  • Santtu Kinnunen had the game of his career in a 5-0 Tampere win over Assat, scoring two goals and two assists. Those two goals were his first two of the season. He has 11 points in 20 Liiga games.
 Games PlayedGoals Assists Points
C Justin Sourdif
(WHL, Vancouver Giants)
3`224
D Mike Benning
(NCAA, University of Denver)
0000
C Aleksi Saarela
(NL, SCL Tigers)
3033
C Mackie Samoskevich
(NCAA, University of Michigan)
2123
D Carter Berger
(NCAA, University of Connecticut)
1011
D Tyler Inamoto
(NCAA, University of Wisconsin)
2000
C Owen Lindmark
(NCAA University of Wisconsin)
2000
D Braden Hache
(OHL, Kingston Frontenacs)
3000
D Cole Krygier
(NCAA, Michigan State University)
0000
D Kasper Puutio
(Liiga, KalPa)
2000
D Santtu Kinnunen
(Liiga, Tappara)
3224
C Aleksi Heponiemi
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
3123
LW Grigori Denisenko
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
4123
D Max Gildon
(AHL Charlotte Checkers)
4011
D Lucas Carlsson
(NHL, Florida Panthers)
3000
RW Serron Noel
(AHL Charlotte Checkers)
3011
C Logan Hutsko
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
4011
D Matt Kiersted
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
3000
RW Cole Schwindt
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
4101
C Henry Bowlby
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
4011
LW Maxim Mamin
(NHL, Florida Panthers)
2000
C Ty Smilanic
(NCAA, Quinipiac)
0000
D Evan Nause
(QMJHL, Quebec Remparts)
3011
D John Ludvig
(AHL, Charlotte Checkers)
0000

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