The Florida Panthers, who have been without several key regulars for significant portions of the season due to injury, are inching closer to full health, as the Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov reports via Twitter.
Nick Bjugstad, who has placed on IR retroactive to January 6th because of a lower-body injury, and Alex Petrovic, out since November with an ankle issue, are both slated to return to the team tomorrow. Bjugstad is likely going to fill the Panthers fourth line pivot spot. The 6-foot-6 center has struggled to produce this season with just one goal and two points in 21 contests. In 67 games played during the 2015-16 season, the five-year veteran registered 15 goals and 34 points. Bjugstad earlier this season missed 19 games with a broken wrist.
Petrovic established himself as a useful regular blue liner last season, tallying 17 points in 66 games and finishing with a plus-17 plus/minus rating. In 16 appearances this season, he has five points and is a plus-eight.
Meanwhile, top line center Aleksander Barkov, out the last two months with a lower-body injury, is still at least two weeks away from returning, notes Fialkov. He has been working out with former NHL forward Marco Sturm, the scribe adds. Sturm last appeared in the league five seasons ago, appearing in 48 games with Vancouver and Florida. Barkov has nine goals and 27 points in 36 games for Florida this season.
Finally, the team reassigned goaltender Reto Berra to Springfield of the AHL as James Reimer is rejoining the club after a brief absence. Berra didn’t appear in a game for Florida since the recall. Reimer left the team to be with his wife, who is expecting the birth of their child and it’s possible he will again take a leave of absence should she go into labor.