CORAL SPRINGS — Logan Hutsko was not given much of a chance in making the Florida Panthers out of Boston College last summer and, really, was a longshot to make the team out of this training camp.
Yet on Sunday, following a large reduction in the roster by the Panthers, there was Hutsko working with the team at practice.
While Hutsko is is using a portable temporary locker wedged in front of the white board in the front of the locker room at the IceDen, he is still in the main locker room with everyone else.
He says he is not looking too far ahead — just trying to make every day he is still with the team count.
“I am just trying to take it day-by-day and not read into anything,” Hutsko said following Sunday’s workout. “I am trying to be the best I can be every day I wake up in the morning.
“Going into the preseason game against Nashville, last year I was nervous. This year, it felt a little more comfortable. That comes with having a year and a training camp under my belt. I am sure I will continue to feel more and more comfortable.”
The Panthers made a lot of moves following Saturday’s 4-3 exhibition loss to the Carolina Hurricanes with 12 players either assigned to the AHL Charlotte Checkers or placed on waivers to do so.
Hutsko, 23, is expected to join them eventually although a strong final week of the preseason could keep him in South Florida as he battles the likes of Aleksi Heponiemi, Chris Tierney and future Hall of Famer Eric Staal for one of the final slots on the Opening Night roster.
Making the Panthers is not any easier this year than it was last. Although there were not many spots to fill on last season’s roster coming out of camp, there is a spot or two open on this one.
Hutsko would like to fill one of them.
”That’s the goal, right,” Hutsko said. “You don’t go to camp to get cut. It is hard though, and there is a lot of things you cannot control.”
Last year, his first professional season went well.
In 71 games with the Checkers, he scored 10 goals with 38 points and helped Charlotte into the third round of the playoffs.
”We had a real good year there, a lot of older guys to look up to,” Hutsko said. “It was a really good year of growing and learning as a player. I learned about the grind of a long season. That’s something I had not done before, coming from school where we played 35 games in a season. That was an adjustment and it was a great year to learn as a player.”
Right now, he is getting a good solid look from the Panthers.
“We are experimenting to see where guys will fit,’’ coach Paul Maurice said. “Practices are really important for these guys. It’s not just the games. We want to see where they fit in, their pace of practice. If you can learn to work at the right pace, then we know we can make you better. That’s what we’re looking at with some of the younger guys.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS PRESEASON
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
Where, When: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise; Thursday, 7 p.m.
Tickets: CLICK HERE
2022 Preseason — Sept. 26: Florida 4, @Nashville 3 (OT); @Nashville 4, Florida 0. Sept. 29: Carolina 5, @Florida 2. Saturday: @Carolina 4, Florida 3. Thursday: vs. Tampa Bay, 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8: at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m
Regular Season Opener: Oct. 13 at New York Islanders