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Florida Panthers Send Balinskis to AHL, Mahura Return Looming

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Florida Panthers defenseman Uvis Balinskis celebrates after scoring his first NHL goal in his team’s eventual 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 10 in Sunrise. Matthew Tkachuk assisted on the goal. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

The Florida Panthers sent defenseman Uvis Balinskis down to AHL Charlotte on Friday.

Balinskis, 27, scored a goal and an assist in 15 games for the Panthers, playing a crucial role on the back end with Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour out with injuries to start the season.

With Josh Mahura preparing to return from an injury of his own and limited space on the Florida blueline, the team has decided to send him down to the AHL.

Balinskis has already been a healthy scratch for six of the past five games with Ekblad and Montour out of the lineup.

Mahura is close to returning from a knee injury he sustained on Nov. 16 against the Los Angeles Kings.

But that decision had nothing to do with his play.

Since making the jump from the Czech league to North American hockey, the Panthers have been really happy with his play on both sides of the puck.

“He’s adapted incredibly well,” coach Paul Maurice said in October.

“From his last two exhibition games, he was incredibly noticeable. His willingness to get involved in plays and not just sit back and watch the game and play it safe. I don’t find him overly risky because he’s completed almost every play he’s tried to make but he’s been aggressive. He jumps into holes and he gets down the walls on the forecheck, so there’s definitely something there.

“You don’t want to put a ceiling on him but we know he can generate offense because he has over the course of his career. The game that he plays now tells us that he will eventually be able to generate offense but in waiting for that to happen, he’s playing a pretty good all-around game.”

ON DECK

NEW YORK ISLANDERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season — At Florida: Saturday; March 28. At Islanders: Jan 27.
  • All-time regular season series: Panthers lead 56-33-11, 8 ties
  • Next Up for the Panthers: Wednesday vs. Dallas, 7 p.m. (TNT)
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