The Panthers could have a pair of regulars back in the lineup on Thursday against Montreal as George Richards of Florida Hockey Now reports that center Aleksander Barkov and defenseman Radko Gudas could be back for that contest. Barkov has missed time due to illness twice this season which is a big loss for Florida as he’s their all-situations top middleman that once again is averaging close to a point per game. Gudas, meanwhile, was injured early this month against Seattle, suffering a concussion. The veteran has six points and 95 hits in 25 games so far this season.
However, it’s not all good news on the injury front for Florida as Richards adds that blueliner Aaron Ekblad might not be able to play against Montreal. He suffered an upper-body injury on Friday and his absence would be a big blow as he’s logging over 24 minutes a night for the third straight season. To that end, Richards tweets that blueliner Matt Kiersted has been recalled from the minors after being sent down over the weekend. The 24-year-old has four points in 20 games with the Panthers this season.
Meanwhile, the team announced (Twitter link) that they have recalled forward Anton Levtchi from AHL Charlotte. The 27-year-old signed a one-year deal with Florida back in June after leading the SM-liiga in scoring last season with 61 points in 55 games with Tappara. So far this season with the Checkers, Levtchi has seven goals and six assists in 24 contests. Florida returned Givani Smith and Grigori Denisenko to the minors over the weekend and it appears they’ll stay in the minors for now with Levtchi getting his first NHL look instead.