Panthers’ final roster comes into focus as regular season nears

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

The Panthers made their final cuts on Sunday, bringing their roster to the 23-player limit that must be met by Tuesday evening. 

Brandon Pirri and Harry Zolneircyzk, both attending the Panthers’ training camp on professional try-out contracts, were released, while defenseman Josh Brown was reassigned to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

Pirri, 26, managed an assist in three preseason games while Zolniercyzk, 30, was kept off the scoresheet in the three games he played.

Brown will return to the Thunderbirds after a very successful camp which saw him earn praise and trust from the Panthers’ new coaching staff.

With both members of the Thunderbirds’ top defensive pairing from last season – Ian McCoshen and Mackenzie Weegar – cracking the Panthers’ squad out of camp, it’s very likely that Brown will slot into one of those vacant spots.

McCoshen and Weegar, drafted by the Panthers in the 2nd and 7th rounds of the 2013 Draft respectively, have made an NHL opening night roster for the first time in their careers.

The two blue-liners played in their first three NHL games at the tail end of last season for the Panthers and will now have an even bigger chance to stick full-time.

Thirteen of the 23 players on the final roster, including five of the seven defensemen, were drafted by the Panthers.

Another one of those is Owen Tippett, who the Panthers selected 10th overall at June’s draft.

The 18-year old hasn’t blown anyone away by any means but possesses an NHL-caliber wrist shot and speed to burn, so the Panthers are content with keeping him up, at least for a little while, to let him get a taste of the pros.

Tippett can play in a maximum of 9 games with the Panthers before a year of his 3-year entry-level contract is burned off. He can, however, stay with the team indefinitely (so as long as he doesn’t go over the 9-game limit) or return to his junior club, the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.

Connor Brickley, Jared McCann, and Denis Malgin also have spots on the Panthers’ opening night roster.

Brickley made the Panthers during his first stint two seasons ago while McCann and Malgin earned spots last year following an influx of preseason injuries up front.

The Panthers will face the Lightning in Tampa on Friday to open the season and at home on Saturday.

Final roster

Forwards

Aleksander Barkov, 16

Nick Bjugstad, 27

Connor Brickley, 23

Evgenii Dadonov, 63

Micheal Haley, 18

Jonathan Huberdeau, 11

Derek MacKenzie, 17

Denis Malgin, 62

Jared McCann, 90

Jamie McGinn, 88

Colton Sceviour, 7

Owen Tippett, 74

Vincent Trocheck, 21

Radim Vrbata, 71

Defense

Aaron Ekblad, 5

Mike Matheson, 19

Ian McCoshen, 12

Alex Petrovic, 6

Mark Pysyk, 13

Mackenzie Weegar, 52

Keith Yandle, 3

Goaltenders

Roberto Luongo, 1

James Reimer, 34

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