The Florida Panthers took Friday off but that did not mean the team was not busy.
The Panthers made a number of roster moves, most notably sending backup goalie Spencer Knight to their AHL team in Charlotte.
The move is not looked at a demotion — just a product of the Panthers’ current roster space and need to activate some players.
With No. 3 goalie Jonas Johansson cleared of Covid protocols, and both goalies ineligible for the taxi squad, one had to move.
Knight, being in his second year of his entry-level contract, is not subject to waivers to go to Charlotte; that is not the case for Johansson.
Florida also sent defenseman Matt Kiersted and forward Aleksi Heponiemi down to Charlotte.
Those moves were made in anticipation of Florida pulling both Patric Hornqvist and Olli Juolevi off IR.
For Knight, this will be his second trip to Charlotte after Florida claimed Johansson off waivers from Colorado in December.
Knight only made one start for the Checkers, giving up five goals off 32 shots faced in a 5-1 loss to the Bridgeport Islanders on Dec. 18.
Knight was quickly brought back to Florida and played well since.
His first start back was a 9-3 win over the Lightning in Sunrise as he has won three of four starts since returning.
On Thursday night, he made 24 saves in Florida’s 4-1 win over visiting Vegas — giving him back-to-back starts in which he gave up a single goal.
With Knight playing Thursday, he is not expected to start for the Checkers tonight in Utica against Kevin Dineen’s Comets, but he could go tomorrow in Syracuse against the Crunch.
Florida only has three games remaining until the team takes two weeks off for the All-Star break and what was supposed to be the Olympic pause.
After playing the Rangers in New York on Tuesday — a game in which Johansson could make his Florida debut if Knight isn’t called back by then — Florida does not play again until visiting Carolina on Feb. 16.
Aside from the two games this weekend, the Checkers play six more times before the Panthers face the Hurricanes potentially giving Knight a handful of starts.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who will start Saturday against San Jose, is expected to be back in net Monday in Columbus and could — if he doesn’t face too many shots that night — go again in New York.
But, since Johansson has yet to play for the Panthers, expect him to start against the Rangers unless Bobrovsky is given the night off in Columbus. Which is not expected.
Since leaving Columbus for the Panthers, Bobrovsky has won seven of his nine starts against the Blue Jackets — including his past six.