The Florida Panthers begin training camp shortly and it appears they will be without two key players until December at the very least.
Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour are still nursing injuries, two key pieces in the team's improbable run to the Stanley Cup.
Via Tim Reynolds:
“Panthers are still bracing for Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour to be out until mid-December. But the situation remains fluid, GM Bill Zito says. No firm timetable, it seems. If mid-December holds — Panthers play their 30th game on Dec. 16. That's a lot of the season.”
Not great news for Florida by any means given these are two of their best defencemen. Montour finished 2022-23 with 16 goals and 57 assists in 80 regular season games while also adding another 13 points in the playoffs. That's a lot of production.
As for Ekblad, he had 14 goals and 24 assists in 71 contests last season and had eight points in the postseason.
The Panthers did manage to bolster their blueline in preparation of Montour and Ekblad missing time, though. They signed Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niko Mikkola, Mike Reilly, Dmitry Kulikov, and re-signed Lucas Carlsson and Casey Fitzgerald. Lots of options.
Florida was the talk of the playoffs last year after making it all the way to the Cup as a No. 4 seed in the Atlantic Division. It was truly a magical time to be a Panthers fan. If Ekblad and Montour do return around mid-December, they would have already missed a good chunk of games. Ideally, the organization can stay afloat until the duo are healthy enough to suit up again.