The Panthers trimmed their training camp roster from 40 players to 32 on Monday afternoon.
Forwards Chase Balisy, Dryden Hunt, Juho Lammikko, defenseman Michael Downing, and goaltender Sam Montembeault were all assigned to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Balisy is expected to be a key part of the Thunderbirds’ squad after a career-high 45-point campaign with the team last year. Hunt, a WHL standout prior to signing with the Panthers last year, struggled to start his rookie season with the Thunderbirds but had an impressive second half.
Lammikko played a integral role in the Thunderbirds’ bottom-6 and on the penalty kill during what was an injury-plagued year for himself. He was a dark horse to earn a roster spot with the Panthers but will instead return to a deep Springfield forward group.
Downing made big strides over the course of his first pro season last year, spending most of his time on the second pairing for the Thunderbirds. With at least one defenseman expected to make the jump to the NHL this season, Downing will likely see an increased role.
Montembeault is set to begin his first pro season after a 4-year career with the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He backstopped the team to it’s first ever conference finals appearance before falling to the Saint John Sea Dogs, and now he’ll look to secure the back-up job in the AHL.
The Panthers signed veteran netminder Harri Sateri out of the KHL with the intention of mentoring the 20-year old rookie, although the spot isn’t necessarily guaranteed with Evan Cowley also vying for a job.
The Panthers also placed forward Alexandre Grenier and defenseman Reece Scarlett on waivers. They’ll be assigned to the Thunderbirds if they clear on Tuesday.
Defenseman Nikolai Belov, signed to a professional try-out contract out of the KHL, has also been released from training camp. He did not suit up for any of the Panthers’ first three preseason games but was present at training camp.
The Thunderbirds open their preseason with a game on Friday against the Providence Bruins.