With the Florida Panthers sending three of its younger players back to their junior teams in Canada, coach Joel Quenneville again split his team into two groups Tuesday — giving a glimpse into who is potentially leading the race for what few roster spots the team has.
What appeared to be Florida’s main group skated at FLA Live Arena — as workers started taking down the BB&T signage outside — while the other group worked at the IceDen in Coral Springs.
Although the Panthers have a lot of time between now and the opener Oct. 14 against the visiting Penguins, it was interesting to see who was in each group.
The Panthers came into camp with what is expected to be about three spots: Perhaps two forwards and one defenseman although Quenneville has hinted that could be flipped.
On defense, it appears the rookie Matt Kiersted and veteran Kevin Connauton have taken the lead in the battle for at least one of those spots.
Tuesday, Florida had what appears to be its top-6 on the ice (check below) with Kiersted and Connauton working as the fourth pairing.
Noah Juulsen, Lucas Carlsson, Chase Priskie and Max Gildon — who are thought to be in the mix for the final spots — were with the second group in Coral Springs.
At forward, Florida was still missing veteran Joe Thornton and rookie Anton Lundell with Eetu Luostarinen centering the third line.
Ryan Lomberg, Juho Lammikko and Maxim Mamin (who left early) were on the fifth forward line.
Grigori Denisenko, Zac Dalpe, Aleksi Heponiemi, Logan Hutsko and Serron Noel were among those in Coral Springs.
According to Quenneville a good chunk of the players who were working in Coral Springs on Tuesday will make up Florida’s travel team Wednesday in Dallas.
”You can read into it anyway you want but it’s an opportunity for everyone,” Quenneville said. “A lot of the guys who (weren’t at the arena) today are going to play in the game tomorrow and can position themselves to make an impact on our staff. It’s an opportunity for these guys to get some consideration as we go along.
”We have some injuries here, have some guys missing. We still have guys who can make the decisions tough on us as we go along here.”
The Panthers are expected to fly to Texas on Wednesday, play the game at AmericanAirlines Center and then fly right back.
Quenneville said Christopher Gibson would start in net.
Few of Florida’s veteran players — those who were in Group 1 on Tuesday — are expected to be on the trip meaning a good portion of the team’s opening night roster will play the Stars in Sunrise on Friday night.
MAMIN LEAVES PRACTICE
Mamin, who was the subject of a FHN+ feature on Tuesday, appeared to pull something early in practice and ended up leaving early.
Although Mamin tried working through it, he ended up heading back to the training room and did not return.
Quenneville did not have a specific timeline but said he could be “out a little longer” than Thornton has been.
Mamin, obviously, is battling for one of the forward spots on the roster and has obviously impressed in the short time training camp has been going.
If he has to miss a few weeks, that could open up a spot for someone else at least for opening night.
Lundell, Quenneville said, has been skating the past few days and is “getting closer and closer to joining us for practice.”
Thornton sounds like he has a groin injury that continues to bother him. “It’s annoying him,” Quenneville said. “We’ll make sure he’s more than ready to come back.”
— Here is how the Panthers lined up at practice Tuesday in Sunrise:
Carter Verhaeghe — Sasha Barkov — Sam Reinhart
Jonathan Huberdeau — Sam Bennett — Owen Tippett
Frank Vatrano — Eetu Luostarinen — Patric Hornqvist
Mason Marchment — Noel Acciari — Anthony Duclair
Ryan Lomberg — Juho Lammikko — Maxim Mamin
MacKenzie Weegar — Aaron Ekblad
Gus Forsling — Brandon Montour
Markus Nutivaara — Radko Gudas
Matt Kiersted — Kevin Connauton
PANTHERS ON DECK
PRESEASON: FLORIDA (2-0) AT DALLAS STARS (0-0-1)
- When: Wednesday 8 p.m.
- Where: AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 5-2-1
- Streaming/TV: ESPN+