With Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour out with injuries to start the season, the Florida Panthers needed to find multiple defensemen suitable to hold things down.
And they found one of their best somewhere they may have least expected it.
Florida’s pro scouts found Uvis Balinskis in the Czechia Extraliga, where he led all defensemen in points with 35 in 50 games last year.
Little did they know how quickly the 27-year-old would fit in at the NHL level.
“You get a big advantage being 27 because you’re filled out, you’re as strong as you’re going to be and you have ben through enough difficult times in hockey that you can mentally handle that,” coach Paul Maurice said.