The Florida Panthers will not officially announce their Opening Night roster for the 2023-24 NHL season until Tuesday morning but it rookie Mackie Samoskevich will be on it.
According to PuckPedia.com and the roster sent to teams around the NHL, Florida will start the season with 22 players (13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders) when it opens against the host Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
The Florida roster had to be salary cap compliant by 5 p.m. on Monday and included Sam Bennett who sustained a lower body injury last week in Tampa.
Although Justin Sourdif appears to have been sent to AHL Charlotte as the Panthers’ final cut of the preseason, he still could travel to Minnesota depending on whether Florida adds him in place of Bennett or makes a LTIR move in the coming days.
Sourdif, 20, had three points in six preseason games after scoring 24 points in 48 games in his first professional season with the Checkers.
He should log heavy minutes with the Checkers and, regardless of whether he joins the Panthers this weekend, will likely make his NHL debut with the team sometime this season.
Samoskevich, who left the University of Michigan following a strong sophomore season, is expected to make his NHL debut in Minnesota.
Florida’s first-round pick in 2021, Samoskevich turned heads during the preseason, scoring six points (three goals, three assists) in six games to follow up a very strong showing in both development camp and the rookie showcase.
On Monday, the 20-year-old played on the third line with Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart; Sourdif filled in for Nick Cousins — whom coach Paul Maurice said will return to practice Tuesday — on Florida’s second line.
“It’s nice to see the hard work pay off,” Samoskevich told FHN on Monday.
“When I grew up, my parents told me when you work hard, good things happen. This was one of those summers where I put my head down and didn’t really look up. It’s just the beginning.”
Per PuckPedia, the Panthers have just under $500,000 under the salary cap which is not enough, right now, to sign Brett Ritchie — who was in camp on a professional tryout.
Ritchie had 13 points in 50 games for the Arizona Coyotes and the Calgary Flames last year.
Florida could still sign Ritchie in the coming days although he is not on the official opening roster.
This is not an unprecedented move.
The Panthers were unable to sign Eric Staal at the end of camp last year until Aaron Ekblad went on long-term injured reserve after being hurt in Boston.
As it appears right now, Ekblad and Brandon Montour will start the season on injured reserve although one or both could be moved to LTIR to clear up the cap space to sign Ritchie, add Sourdif to the roster or someone else.
Ritchie was one of Florida’s extras at practice on Monday.
Maurice said afterward no decision on whether to sign him had been made.
The Panthers lost John Ludvig off waivers to the Pittsburgh Penguins after placing him, Zac Dalpe and Casey Fitzgerald on waivers Sunday.
Ludvig, 23, turned heads in camp with his defensive and physical play but missed the final three preseason games with an injury.
Previously, he played just 53 games in the last two years due to a hip injury.
Other noteworthy additions to the Panthers is 26-year-old defenseman Uvis Balinskis who is in his first North American season after playing in the Czech league.
If Josh Mahura is unable to go on Thursday, Balinskis would also make his NHL debut against the Wild.
— The Panthers had the opportunity to bring Grigori Denisenko back into the organization Monday but chose not to do so.
Denisenko was claimed by Vegas off waivers on Saturday — only to be placed back on waivers by the Golden Knights on Sunday so they could send him to their AHL team.
The Panthers could have reclaimed him and, if no other team claimed Denisenko, sent him to AHL Charlotte. They did not and Denisenko will start his season in Henderson, Nevada, with the Knights’ organization.
Denisenko was Florida’s first-round pick in 2018.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ROSTER*
FORWARDS (13): Sasha Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe, Evan Rodrigues, Anton Lundell, Sam Bennett, Eetu Luostarinen, Kevin Stenlund, Ryan Lomberg, Nick Cousins, Mackie Samoskevich, 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
* — Team says it will officially announce Tuesday morning
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MINNESOTA WILD
- 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.