Panthers’ Organizational Depth Will Be Put To The Test


Even after one of the Florida Panthers‘ most lopsided wins in history Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars, the lineup might have to be tinkered with before the Panthers visit the Blues on Thursday.  That’s because the injuries are starting to accumulate, and at least one of them will be an extended leave of absence.

Yesterday it was revealed that winger Scottie Upshall would miss six to eight weeks while recovering from a hip injury.  Also yesterday, Jack Skille was scratched because of a groin pull that he suffered during Sunday’s Flyers game, and Matt Bradley was forced to leave after only 31 seconds of ice time with an apparent upper body injury.

If the Panthers want to continue to win impressive games against solid teams, they’re going to need to bring it night in and night out.  Of course, injuries inhibit teams from putting the best product on the ice, but that’s part of the game and all good teams overcome them.  All of these injuries right now will be a litmus test for the Panthers to measure their depth as an organization and whether or not they can stand with the big boys in the Eastern Conference.

Certainly what appears to be the biggest blow at the point is the hip injury to Upshall.  As of right now team doctors say he won’t need surgery, but effectively having Scottie out until January will be a big blow to the team.  For now, Evgeny Dadonov is filling in for him on the second line, and will continue to play so long as he lights the lamp once a game.  This will be a very, very long audition for Dadonov to prove that he has all the pieces together and is ready to be a top-six forward kind of player.

Matt Bradley’s injury is mostly a mystery so far, so no knowledge of length of absence is known.  Conventional thought process would have Michael Repik come up from San Antonio to plug the spot missing.  However, Dale Tallon needs to know the severity of the injury before calling up any additional players from the already thinning Rampage roster.  Tim Kennedy has already been called up in place of Jack Skille, but he won’t appear to be out of service for too long with only a groin pull.  It’s possible that Skille will be well enough to play against the Blues, which would keep Repik down in the AHL.

And did you forget about our friend, Mikael Samuelsson?  Still suffering complications from a sports hernia that he suffered all the way back in May, Samuelsson is somewhere close to a week from returning.  Assistant GM Mike Santos recently said that “I think it’ll be this month.”  Once he gets his visa issues straightened out and his hernia is fully healed, Samuelsson should get a spot on the roster somewhere to get him back on the ice.  He planning on meeting the team for the first time in St. Louis.

So, even though the injury situation appears sticky, the Panthers do not appear to be handicapped too much.  They have good AHL replacements in Dadonov, Kennedy, Repik, and the soon-to-come NHLer, Mikael Samuelsson.  I wouldn’t fret too much as a Panther fan for now: so long as we keep killing teams 6-0, I could care less who is on the ice.

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