The Panthers may place captain Aleksander Barkov on injured reserve to create space on the 23-man roster for a recall, head coach Paul Maurice told George Richards of Florida Hockey Now. Barkov is out with a knee injury sustained in Friday night’s game against the Ducks and did not practice with the team this morning. The Panthers confirmed earlier Sunday that he’s listed as day-to-day and won’t be in the lineup Monday against the Oilers.
Barkov was injured on a hit from rookie defenseman Jackson LaCombe in the third period of Friday’s game. The team spent the past 36 hours evaluating him and determined that while he’ll need to miss time, it luckily won’t be a long-term absence. If Barkov is placed on IR, it will be backdated to Friday, ruling him out of the team’s next two games. He could return Friday against the Jets.
The 28-year-old is off to a strong start this year, posting six goals, 11 assists and 17 points through 16 appearances in 2023-24. He’s averaging north of 20 minutes per game for the seventh consecutive season, and his +14 rating is tied with Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes for the league lead. The 2013 second-overall pick continues to enshrine himself as the best forward in franchise history and is on pace for his fourth straight season above a point-per-game pace.
How much longer Barkov could miss beyond the seven-day period required by an IR placement remains unclear. Given his day-to-day designation, though, it would be surprising to see him out of the lineup by the time the calendar flips to December.
With Barkov out, another future high-flying Finnish centerman, Anton Lundell, will slide into his spot on the top line. The 22-year-old has a goal and seven assists in 17 contests this season and is averaging 15:32 per game. The 2020 12th-overall pick is in the third and final season of his entry-level contract, which costs $925K against the salary cap.