Will Matt Kiersted’s First-Career Goal Spark His Career?

In just 11 career NHL games, Florida Panthers defensemen Matt Kiersted found the back of the net in the Panthers’ 4-1 loss to the Kings on Thursday.

Kiersted, an undrafted free agent out of the University of North Dakota, had a brief stint with the Panthers in a bizarre 2020-21 season, and this year, was called upon due to injuries and sicknesses on the team.

In a strange game against the Kings where Florida had to play two men down after COVID ran through the Cats’ locker room, Kiersted found himself as one of the game’s lone bright spots.

Florida did not play inherently bad on Thursday night, and they got off to a great start against the surprise Kings by scoring first thanks to Minnesota native’s first-career tally.

Kiersted was recalled just hours before the contest against the Kings, and despite scoring a goal in his fifth game up in the 2021-22 season, he is not known for his elite scoring ability.

This season with Charlotte, he posted 10 points in 21 games (2-8-10). Even his best offensive season with the Fighting Hawks in North Dakota, he scored seven goals in his sophomore season.

At just six feet tall, Kiersted profiles more as a puck mover and a chance creator rather than a guy you can count on to score 20 goals a season from the blue line.

If you are going to play in the NHL on the defensive side of things at six feet tall, you will need to be a crafty player.

In high school, he was a point-per-game guy playing for both Elk River High School and Twin Cities Orthopedics and translated that success into his college career at North Dakota.

His point totals slowly went up with the Fighting Hawks after netting just eight points in 29 games in his freshmen year, to a career-high 29 points in his junior season in 33 games.

Even if Kiersted turns out to be a sixth or seventh defenseman for the Florida Panthers, in a hockey environment like the one we are currently living in, the Cats will need all the help they can get.