Justin Sourdif did not expect to be able to get in a pregame nap Monday and how could he what with that night marking his NHL debut with the Panthers in Newark?
Sourdif, 21, will be getting his solo lap tonight when he gets into the lineup for the first time when the Panthers face the New Jersey Devils.
He said coach Paul Maurice shook his hand when giving him the news prior to the Monday morning skate.
“I was walking by coach Maurice, he shook my hand an told me I was in tonight,’’ Sourdif recalled.
“He said to enjoy it. It didn’t even really settle in until five minutes later when I was sitting in my stall and I was like ‘I’m going to be playing in my first NHL game tonight.’ Just overjoyed.’’
Sourdif quickly got on the phone to let his family know about the momentous occasion although he was not sure whether his parents would be able to fly from Vancouver to the New York area in time for the game.
“I’m sure they’ll be watching no matter what,’’ he said. “They are really excited.’’
Sourdif will become the third Florida player to make his NHL debut this young season after fellow rookie Mackie Samoskevich and 27-year-old defenseman Uvis Balinskis played in their first games Thursday in Minnesota.
Samoskevich is being scratched tonight with Sourdif taking his place on the third line.
It has been quite the eventful week for Sourdif as last Monday he appeared to be the final cut of the Panthers out of camp and was assigned to AHL Charlotte where he had spent all of last season.
Only that was simply a salary cap move; the Panthers did not have enough cap space to keep more than 22 players on their initial roster.
When Florida put Aaron Ekblad on long-term injured reserve and recaptured $7 million of his salary under the cap the following day, Sourdif officially rejoined the Panthers.
“Coming out of camp, we wanted to get both of those young men into a game fairly early based on the camp they had,’’ Maurice said of Sourdif and Samoskevich.
“The door was open. I was fine with Mackie’s game and he is going to learn from watching and by playing. This will be a fast game tonight and Sourdie can skate with the best of them. This is the right place for him to go in.’’
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
PANTHERS @ NEW JERSEY DEVILS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Prudential Center, Newark
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM 2;WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Devils Favored: Money Line (-180); Puck line (-1.5, +130); Over/Under 7 (+114/-135)
- This Season: Panthers @ Devils, Monday; Devils @ Panthers, Jan. 13; Panthers @ Devils, March 5
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Devils lead 57-35-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Home Opener; Thursday vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.