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Florida Panthers Waive Fitzgerald, Dalpe and Ludvig



Zac dalpe
Florida Panthers center Zac Dalpe, pictured here against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 10, was placed on waivers Sunday and is expected to report to AHL camp in Charlotte. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The Florida Panthers placed forward Zac Dalpe and defenseman Casey Fitzgerald and John Ludvig on waivers on Sunday afternoon.

All three are expected to report to AHL Charlotte if they clear.

Sunday was the final opportunity teams had to place players on waivers prior to the submission of their 23-man opening day rosters, which are due on Monday at 5 p.m.

As things stand, the Panthers have 23 players under contract on their roster — plus Brett Ritchie who is on a professional tryout but has yet to ink a deal.

A few of Florida’s players are dealing with injuries, including Ritchie.

With Sam Bennett likely to miss the first few games of the season and possibly be placed on injured reserve, Florida’s opening-night roster is nearly finalized.

One of the biggest questions remaining is whether the Panthers end up signing Ritchie.

Ritchie played in three preseason games without registering a point but has missed the second half of the preseason with an undisclosed injury. Ritchie skated with the team on Saturday morning but did not play in the preseason finale against the Lightning.

“He is close to playing again,” coach Paul Maurice said. “He couldn’t go tonight and then we will kind of making a going-forward plan with him.

If Ritchie is not signed, rookies Justin Sourdif and Mackie Samoskevich will have made the opening-night roster.

But one or both could be sent back as soon as Bennett returns to play a top-6 role back in Charlotte.

“Both of those young players have come in and put up some numbers, which is nice,” Maurice said.

“They played hard and they played well for us, but they won’t watch hockey. They have to play, so that is part of the decision process. If you can find meaningful minutes for them, I think it makes sense, but if not, they can’t just sit and watch.

“If they do, maybe it might be for the opening weekend or maybe they’ve earned a place to be there but they won’t be watching hockey long-term.”

The Panthers look to be set at defense, with six starting defensemen and a back-up to boot.

Uvis Balinskis, a 26-year-old Florida signed from the Czech league this summer, turned heads and appears to have beaten out Fitzgerald, Lucas Carlsson and Matt Kiersted to earn the role as Florida’s seventh defenseman.

“He just built his game from Day 1,” Maurice said.

“I saw him play in Europe on video but that doesn’t give you a great feel. And then there was so much thrown at him. Completely different style of game, training camp was harder than last year, so there were five brutal days for everybody.

“And then each day off after that first block, he got better and better and he’s quicker than we saw in the first few days and his game has really stood out for us.”

Speaking of waivers, the Panthers lost 2018 first-round pick Grigori Denisenko to the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

Only Vegas put him back on waivers Sunday — meaning the Panthers could bring him back if they so choose and assign him to Charlotte.



FORWARDS (14): Sasha Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe, Evan Rodrigues, Anton Lundell, Sam Bennett, Eetu Luostarinen, Kevin Stenlund, Ryan Lomberg, Nick Cousins, Mackie Samoskevich, Justin Sourdif, Steven Lorentz

DEFENSEMEN (7): Gus Forsling, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mike Reilly, Josh Mahura, Dmitri Kulikov, Niko Mikkola, Uvis Balinskis

GOALIES (2): Sergei Bobrovsky, Anthony Stolarz

INJURED RESERVE (2): Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour

PTO (1): Brett Ritchie



  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • This season: Florida @ Minnesota, Thursday; Minnesota @ Florida, Jan. 19
  • All-time regular season series: Minnesota leads 18-10-2, 1 tie
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Winnipeg Jets, 4 p.m.

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