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2023 Stanley Cup Final

If Radko Gudas is Out, Could Lucas Carlsson (Finally) Get In?



Lucas carlsson
Florida Panthers defenseman Lucas Carlsson plays against the Nashville Predators on April 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

If the Florida Panthers are going to be without Radko Gudas when they return home for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, could Lucas Carlsson finally get his shot?


Carlsson has been working with the Panthers since the Charlotte Checkers’ season ended in the second round of the playoffs.

Twice, however, the Panthers have opted to play Casey Fitzgerald when an extra defenseman was needed this postseason including Monday night when coach Paul Maurice went with seven.

That turned out to be a good move for the Panthers as Gudas left the game following a big hit from Ivan Barbashev in the first period.

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Gudas did not return to the game and it is not known whether he will be available for Game 3.

On Tuesday morning, coach Paul Maurice said there was no update on Gudas’ status after it appeared he took a shot to the head from Barbashev then hit his head on the ice in the aftermath.

“All the testing will be done today,” Maurice said, “and then when we get back.”


Speaking to FHN before the Cup Final began, he said being able to log heavy minutes and play in all sorts of situations with the Checkers this season was great for his development.

“I’m just trying to stay ready, the best that I can,” Carlsson said. “I know the boys are playing really well and I hope the lineup stays the same. But I will be ready if they need me.”

Florida was fine with leaving Carlsson in Charlotte for that very reason — and also really did not need to call on him.

When the Panthers claimed Josh Mahura off waivers near the end of training camp, Carlsson and Matt Kiersted were the odd men out and headed to Charlotte.

The Panthers, aside from the 11 games Aaron Ekblad missed due to his groin injury, pretty much used the same six defensemen all season. Carlsson was with Florida when Ekblad was out, but then went back.

“At the end of the season, I was thinking about that there had been no real change in the lineup. No injuries? That’s crazy,” Carlsson said. “But that is good. I am happy for the guys and glad everyone was able to stay healthy. Now we’re in the Finals and that is good to see.”

He had himself a year with the Checkers, scoring 20 goals with 54 points in 61 games not including three goals in the postseason.

”Being able to play 25 minutes every night, that is good for your confidence and you’re able to find consistency in your game by being in the lineup every night,’’ said Carlsson, who played in 40 games (3 goals, 9 points) with the Panthers last season.

“Last year, I played like 40 games and it just was not the same. This was good for my development and it really helped me in my development for sure. It was nice to get that consistency and I needed that after last year. It was good for me and fun at the same time.”

While Maurice and the Panthers do not know much about Carlsson, having him here for training camp and the early part of the season, they got plenty of reports on him from Charlotte — and have had him at practice the past few weeks.

“That’s why he is here,” Maurice said. “We have eight defensemen on the ice and they have worked hard, they are sharp and they are ready. We were really happy (Carlsson) was able to continue playing there, get some playoff games in.”

As for next season, it looks like Carlsson will have his chance to make the Panthers.

Florida will have salary cap space it did not have this past summer and there should be some roster changes which comes with the territory.

Had the Panthers had the space to carry seven defensemen at the start of the season, it likely would have been Carlsson or Kiersted getting that spot.

”My goal is to play in the NHL and the plan is to be here in Florida,” Carlsson said. “I’m already getting ready for next season and this year helped. I am trying to get better every day, so, we’ll see.

“This is a great place and this is where I want to be.”


GAME 3 (Vegas leads 2-0)
  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 96.5 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Series Schedule — Game 1: @Vegas 5, Florida 2; Game 2: @Vegas 7, Florida 2; Game 3: Thursday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 4: Saturday at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 5*: Tuesday at Vegas, 8 (TNT); Game 6*: Friday June 16 at Florida, 8 (TNT); Game 7*: Monday June 19 at Vegas, 8 (TNT). * – If Necessary
  • 2022-23 Regular Season Series (Even 1-1): @Vegas 4, Florida 2 (Jan. 12); @Florida 2, Vegas 1 (March 7)
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Golden Knights lead 6-3-1
  • Postseason History: First meeting
  • How They Got Here — Vegas: d. Winnipeg in 5, Edmonton in 6, Dallas in 6; Florida: d. Boston in 7, Toronto in 5, Carolina in 4.

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