The Florida Panthers’ expanded roster for an unusual training camp leading into the 2020 postseason is giving one of the organization’s top prospects a chance at a breakthrough.
Owen Tippett, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, headlines the list of additions to the Panthers’ expanded 30-man roster for the return-to-play training camp, which began Monday in Coral Springs. The right wing, who has spent the entire season with AHL Springfield, is regarded as the No. 14 prospect in the NHL and No. 3 in the organization, according to ESPN’s rankings.
Tippett is one of five players on the 30-man roster not to appear for Florida in the regular season. Goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, center Eetu Luostarinen, and defensemen Chase Priskie and Brady Keeper are also on the expanded roster, which features four goaltenders, 10 defensemen and 16 forwards. Luostarinen and Priskie — plus centers Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark — were acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in February in exchange for center Vincent Trocheck.
“We’re not going to rule out anything like that. I’ve seen, at different stages of the playoffs, guys jump in and all of a sudden they’ve got a different role, and all of a sudden they take advantage of an opportunity and it looks like they belong,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There are some new guys organizationally that everybody’s got some excitement about. We’re looking forward to seeing them get comfortable with their game and their teammates, and their teammates in that regard, as well. Certainly, we’ll find out a lot about these guys over the next month.”
The most notable omission from the roster is Henrik Borgstrom. The center played 50 games with the Panthers last year, but spent the bulk of the regular season with the Springfield Thunderbirds, making just four appearances in the NHL before an injury cut short his season before the COVID-19 shutdown in March.
The full 30-man roster:
— Goaltenders: Sam Montembeault, Chris Driedger, Sergei Bobrovsky and Desrosiers.
— Defensemen: Josh Brown, Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad, Anton Stralman, Mark Pysyk, Mike Matheson, MacKenzie Weegar, Riley Stillman, Priskie and Keeper.
— Forwards: Colton Sceviour, Brian Boyle, Brett Connolly, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dominic Toninato, Aleksander Barkov, Aleksi Saarela, Noel Acciari, Erik Haula, Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, Lucas Wallmark, Frank Vatrano, Luostarinen and Tippett.
Quenneville said over and over again throughout the four-month hiatus he was happy with the way Florida was playing before the coronavirus halted the season. The Panthers had won two in a row, including a four-goal outburst against the Montreal Canadiens.
As Florida returned to practice Monday at the Florida Panthers IceDen, Quenneville is trying to change as little as he can from March, which means prioritizing continuity with Florida’s lines.
“We had some success with those lines. We thought that continuity coming in, off the bat that’s how we’re going to look to go,” Quenneville said. “We liked the way we finished up with good results as well as the production across the board on the lines.”
This means Pysyk, listed as a defenseman on the roster, is still considered a right wing by Queneville, and spent Monday working with center Noel Acciari and winger Colton Sceviour.
Center Aleksander Barkov, meanwhile, skated Monday with wingers Evgenii Dadonov and Colton Sceviour, just as he was at the end of the abbreviated regular season.
The one wrench in keeping lines intact is the addition of Brian Boyle, who hasn’t played since the first day of February, but is back at full health and ready to contribute against the New York Islanders in the qualifying round next month. Quenneville will have to find a way to slot him in and he praised the forward Monday.
“Boy, he makes a presence on your team and you notice him on the ice,” the coach said. “I thought he skated extremely well.”
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