Nick Bjugstad sidelined, Panthers make cuts as Opening Night approaches

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

The Panthers announced today that they’ve made 8 roster moves, bringing their Opening Night roster into focus. On top of that, the Panthers will be without Nick Bjugstad to start the season after he suffered a broken hand on Tuesday.

Here is a list of the roster moves made by the Panthers on Wednesday and Thursday:

  • Connor Brickley, Kyle Rau, MacKenzie Weegar, Dryden Hunt sent to the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL)
  • Logan Shaw, Jakub Kindl, Reto Berra placed on waivers with the intent of sending them to the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL)
  • Adam Pardy released from PTO

The Panthers have reduced their roster from 51 all the way down to 27 over the past week or so, and those moves have included sending a handful of players back to juniors (Sam Montembeault, Jonathan Ang, Adam Mascherin, others), releasing players from PTOs (Justin Fontaine and Adam Pardy), and sending others down to the AHL (Linus Hultstrom, Sam Brittain, Juho Lammikko, others).

The non-regulars still left on the Panthers’ roster include:

  • Greg McKegg
  • Shane Harper
  • Paul Thompson
  • Denis Malgin
  • Thomas Schemitsch
  • Ian McCoshen

Also a part of the equation for who will make the final roster is the fact that the Panthers will be without center Nick Bjugstad for 4-6 weeks after he collided with the side of the net and broke his hand early in the 1st period on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. The Panthers seem to be very high on Denis Malgin at this point in time and with performing as well as he is, it would not be surprising at all to see him slot in on the 3rd line with Jonathan Marchessault and Jared McCann.

In addition to Malgin, the Panthers are still taking a hard look at forwards Shane Harper, Greg McKegg, and Paul Thompson who have performed well this preseason as well. There is a bottom-6 spot to be filled and all 3 of those players are very capable of slotting in where needed.

On the defensive side of things, Thomas Schemitsch and Ian McCoshen remain on the roster on the defensive side of things. Schemitsch is a bit of a surprise considering he was expected to return to the OHL for his 4th and final junior season with the Owen Sound Attack, however he turns 20 before December 31st and is eligible for the AHL if he signs an entry-level contract. It’s unlikely that he’d become a regular over the defensemen that the Panthers already have, so it remains to be seen what the team’s plans for him are.

For McCoshen, he still has the chance to make the NHL roster, but with Steven Kampfer likely to end up as the team’s 6th or 7th defenseman, odds are he’ll make his way to the AHL soon. Reports out of the preseason games are that McCoshen has looked very good, so nothing can be ruled out just yet.

The Panthers are expected to travel to West Point soon, barring any disruptions caused by the weather, to face the New Jersey Devils in a preseason game on Saturday. They were scheduled to face the Lightning on Thursday evening at the BB&T Center, but that game was cancelled as the east coast of Florida braces for Hurricane Matthew.

The regular season opens on Thursday, October 13th at 7:00pm against the New Jersey Devils at the BB&T Center.

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