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Florida Panthers star defenseman Aaron Ekblad was placed on long-term IR on Wednesday after suffering a lower body injury, the team announced. This is a huge blow to a team that relied on him for his offensive output, while not sacrificing anything on the defensive side of the puck. Without their number one defenseman, as well as Brandon Montour, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury, young defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Matt Kiersted will draw into the lineup.
Ekblad won’t be eligible to rejoin the team until Nov. 11th at the earliest, meaning he will miss at least 11 games. Ekblad’s injury adds to a compiling list of NHL stars who have been hurt early on in the season, including Patrik Laine of the Blue Jackets, and Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi.
Panthers’ GM Bill Zito said, “It’s not a season ending thing. We have every reason to believe he’ll be back at 100 percent” regarding Ekblad’s injury. Pierre LeBrun of TSN has reported that the injury is expected to sideline Ekblad for 4-7 weeks, giving the first indication of an anticipated time frame.
Ekblad missed 21 games last season with a knee injury, as well as another 21 games in the 2020-21 campaign after he suffered a broken leg against Dallas in late March. It’s concerning to see Ekblad’s injury troubles continue, but it’s good to know that the Panthers most likely won’t be without him for too long this time around.
The Panthers signed veteran forward Eric Staal to a one-year contract on Friday. He’ll join his brother, Marc Staal on the team, and is expected to make his Panthers debut on Sunday against the Islanders. He adds depth as well as a veteran presence. Eric has played in 1,293 career games with five different teams, where he amassed 1,034 points.