Florida Panthers News: Aleksander Barkov Will Miss Only 2-4 Weeks


Oct 20, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save as Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) looks for a rebound during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Good news emerges from the Florida Panthers camp this morning: Aleksander Barkov will not need surgery for the broken bone in his hand.  Instead, he will be back in the line-up as soon as he can comfortably grip a hockey stick.

Needless to say, this is great news for the Panthers.  Some rumors indicated that Barkov’s broken bone would put him on a month-long timetable for return, at least.  Now with him only gone a few weeks, Gerard Gallant and Dale Tallon can make do with more temporary solutions to Barkov’s absence.

In the meantime, Nick Bjugstad will be the top-line center between Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr.  That line didn’t miss much of a beat in the 6-2 beating of the Stars on Saturday.  But of course, calling up Bjugstad from the second forward line has ramifications for the rest of the roster.  In today’s practice, Gallant skated entirely new lines:

It’s interesting to see Dave Bolland/Reilly Smith/Jussi Jokinen earn the second line role, since their collective efforts might make them better as a third, more defensively-minded line.

Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck, and Quinton Howden will make up the third line.  And considering Pirri played only 11:32 of ice time in Dallas, he’ll have to shape up his defensive skills quickly if he wants to earn substantial ice time.  And that’s especially if Pirri will be the center on this line, instead of Trocheck.

Derek MacKenzie, Connor Brickley, and Shawn Thornton will skate on the fourth line.  It’s too bad to see Howden separated from MacKenzie and Brickley, considering how good of a rapport they were creating.

The lines will most likely go back to where they were before once Barkov returns from injury, but we might see even more shuffling if one of these lines hits it off and starts clicking.  Also worth noting: there isn’t any forward depth left on the NHL roster now that Thornton is in the line-up.  Steven Kampfer spotted at forward last year, but he was unconvincing in his one game this year, against the Blackhawks.  Rocco Grimaldi is most likely the next man to come up from the AHL if Gallant or Tallon want reinforcements, but perhaps a player like Shane Harper or Greg McKegg could earn a call-up.  The Panthers could always use offense from the fourth line, and a fourth line with Shawn Thornton won’t threaten that often.

The Panthers will put these new lines to the test tomorrow, but for now we can breathe easy: Aleksander Barkov will be back sooner than we feared.

Next: Dmitry Kulikov is showing flashes of dominant two-way play

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