The Panthers announced today that they’ve returned 2015 11th-overall pick Lawson Crouse back to his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, and that they’ve also waived Garrett Wilson and Dylan Olsen with the intention of assigning them to the Portland Pirates of the AHL. These three moves reduce the Panthers’ roster to 24 players and come the day before Tuesday’s 5 PM deadline by which teams are required to finalize and submit their 23-man roster for opening night.
Sending Lawson Crouse back to juniors comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the Panthers seemed intent on giving him his 9-game tryout. He also has a pending 8-game suspension for a check to the head he delivered in the final game of last year’s OHL season. The suspension expires on October 16th whether he’s with Kingston or not so it was thought that may play into the decision of keeping him with the big club or sending him back. However, the Panthers needed to make cuts to meet the 23-man roster limit by tomorrow, and they also have Martin Havlat who is currently in limbo since there will be at least 13 healthy forwards on opening night (Grimaldi is uncertain after an ankle injury), and it probably wouldn’t make sense to sign Havlat and sit him on the bench. Crouse will also have a good chance at making Canada’s World Juniors team after impressing in last year’s tournament as a 17-year-old.
Garrett Wilson being put on waivers wasn’t unexpected by any means, especially considering the emergence of Connor Brickley and Quinton Howden as viable 4th-line options. Garrett Wilson didn’t have a bad camp, but Brickley and Howden stood out more and appear ready to play in the NHL. Dylan Olsen also appears to have been beat out by Steven Kampfer and Alex Petrovic, and it seems he still needs to work on the conditioning side of things after missing time last season in the AHL due to personal matters.