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Vladimir Tarasenko All Smiles Ahead of Florida Panthers Debut

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Florida Panthers Vladimir Tarasenko

FORT LAUDERDALE — When Vladimir Tarasenko took the ice for his first morning skate as a member of the Florida Panthers, everyone in the building could see the smile on his face.

He seems happy to be part of the Florida Panthers — after all, he desired to after holding all of the cards in his trade negotiations via a full no-trade clause — and everyone around him knew it.

“I feel like this gives me the best chance to win a Stanley Cup and my family was here,” Tarasenko said. “After looking at the options, we decided this would be the possible things for us.”

Tarasenko knows South Florida well.

He lived and trained down there over the summer for years before his family decided to move to nearby Weston when he signed a one-year contract with the Ottawa Senators.

“We have a place here that we spend the summers in,” Tarasenko said. “But this year, we decided to stay and have the kids go to school and get some sun.”

All of the positive thoughts rolling through his head as he took the ice on Thursday morning rubbed off on the rest of his new teammates, and it was much needed for a team that had just returned from a three-game road trip.

“It’s a new guy, right?” coach Paul Maurice said. “You make a trade, a new player shows up, and that brings a buzz. That’s what that’s all about.

“We’ve come off the road travel day yesterday. Usually the morning skate [the day after] is pretty sluggish. But today, it’s just the energy of another important trade bringing in a really good hockey player and it brings a jump to our room so there’s a special bonus this morning for sure.”

Tarasenko has garnered the reputation as a really good hockey player.

He has scored over 20 goals in eight of his first 10 healthy season and has 17 goals and 41 points through 57 games this year.

“He is just a very, very smart player positionally,” Maurice said. “He’s got those hands, he can make plays, he can shoot the puck and pass the puck. But he’s just a smart player.

“He gets to where he needs to, he moves the puck at the right time and he’s just a very good veteran guy that I think can develop chemistry with just about anybody. He can almost morph his game with different style of players, so it’s a really good add for us.”

Tarasenko will begin his Panthers career on the left side of Sasha Barkov and Sam Reinhart, two players who excel on both ends of the ice and have been lighting up the scoresheet this season.

Although Tarasenko has not played much on the left side of a line, Maurice figured — why not?

“There is a language connection with Barkov and the systems will be new for him,” Maurice said. “So there is going to be a bit of a lag in terms of speed until he gets up to speed once he understands the system, so you want somebody on the bench who understands that completely.

“You’ve got Barkov and Reinhart could define it as well as anybody. That’s a positive. I like the other lines the way they’re going, and we have time. So what I wanted to do is take anything I didn’t know and give it an opportunity to mold.”

Barkov is excited about the prospect of getting one of the elite snipers in the league on his line.

“It is great, he is an unbelievable hockey player,” Barkov said. “I have heard a lot of good things about him as a person, as well. It is good to have those guys here, he really wanted to be here. And that’s the main reason he is here. He looked good things morning. It’s obvious, that guy can play some hockey.’’

The starting goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky and Sam Ersson.

ON DECK

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Local Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-225); Puck line (-1.5, +105); Over/Under 6.5 (+110/-135)
  • Season Series — At Florida: Flyers 2, Panthers 1 (Feb 6); Thursday. At Philadelphia: March 24.  
  • Last Season: Philadelphia won 2-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Philadelphia leads 57-37-6, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Calgary, 4 p.m.

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS (43-16-4) LINEUP

10 Vladimir Tarasenko // 16 Aleksander Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 17 Evan Rodrigues

21 Nick Cousins // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 94 Ryan Lomberg

41 Gustav Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Josh Mahura, Steven Lorentz, William Lockwood, Jonah Gadjovich

Injured: None

PROJECTED PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (32-23-8) LINEUP

86 Joel Farabee // 21 Scott Laughton // 71 Tyson Foerster

74 Owen Tippett // 48 Morgan Frost // 89 Cam Atkinson

27 Noah Cates // 25 Ryan Poehling // 19 Garnet Hathaway

44 Nicolas Deslauriers // 14 Sean Couturier // 10 Bobby Brink

8 Cam York // 6 Travis Sanheim

5 Egor Zamula // 18 Marc Staal

6 Adam Ginning // 23 Ronnie Attard

Samuel Ersson

Felix Sandstrom

Scratched: Olle Lycksell, Ryan Johansen

Injured: Nick Seeler (lower body), Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body), Travis Konecny (upper body), Jamie Drysdale (upper body)

Philadelphia Flyers lines courtesy NHL.com

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