The Florida Panthers will be without a key defenseman during their five-game western Canada road trip after Gus Forsling was added to the Covid-19 list on Wednesday.
He was ruled out for Florida’s matchup with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
Forsling is tied for 21st in assists among NHL defensemen, adding his first goal of the season on Saturday in a 7-1 win over the Dallas Stars.
“He’s such an important part of our team,” interim coach Andrew Brunette said of his first goal of the season.
“If you could take in a nutshell what he brings, it was that shift, out of the d-zone, flushing a play, and then jumping in the play.”
Forsling has been a staple on the Panthers’ defense ever since being claimed off of waivers last January, holding down the left side of the second-pairing alongside Radko Gudas all season.
With Forsling out, the Panthers will bring Lucas Carlsson back to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Carlsson, who has seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games, was replaced by Olli Juolevi after the team’s 4-3 overtime win on Jan. 8 against the Hurricanes.
Now they get a chance to see both players in the lineup.
“It’s gonna be big roles for them in a big opportunity for them to solidify their spot in the lineup and in the league,” Brunette said.
“They’ve taken advantage of the different times, maybe consistency with both of them that we could use a bit more of, but there’s a great opportunity.”
Brunette did not say whether or not another defenseman would be coming up from the AHL, but Chase Priskie and Matt Kiersted each had opportunities at the NHL level and could get another look if needed.
They each last played on Dec. 16, after seven players were added to the Covid-19 protocols list, against the Los Angeles Kings. Priskie clocked in over 25 minutes of ice-time while Kiersted scored his first NHL goal.