Rookie forward Jayce Hawryluk has returned from a stint on the injured reserve at the earliest possible date, after being sidelined early last week. Unfortunately, in announcing his activation, the Florida Panthers also noted that defenseman Mackenzie Weegar is headed for his own stretch on the IR.
Weegar, 25, has missed the Panthers’ past two games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. The team’s penalty minutes leader, Weegar plays a physical style on Florida’s bottom pairing and has been known to run into injuries from time to time. He missed time last season due to a lower-body injury, lost three games to a shoulder injury in October, and most recently was out four games earlier this month with a concussion. The concussion could very well be the current cause of Weegar’s absence, but the team has not confirmed that is the case. In his absence, the Panthers will lean on their top two pairs for more ice time, while Ian McCoshen should draw back into the lineup. As for Weegar, the impending RFA is on pace to record career highs across the board and will look to get back on the ice as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Cats will welcome Hawryluk back to the roster. The 23-year-old forward has played in 19 games for Florida, recording five points, and additionally has been a point-per-game scorer for the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds this season. A 2014 second-round pick, Hawryluk has tapped into his offensive instincts this season and finally looks like the player he was in juniors. With Evgenii Dadonov and Colton Sceviour currently sidelined, the Panthers needed Hawryluk’s offense back in the lineup.