This post is part of Florida Panthers day at PHT…
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo has provided an encouraging update on his comeback from offseason surgery.
At the age of 37 and with 926 regular season games under his belt, Luongo had hip surgery earlier this summer. There was discussion at the time that he might not be ready for the beginning of the regular season in October, but it appears there is reason for optimism with his rehab.
The Panthers open the season at home against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 13.
“I started skating Aug. 5 and there has been slow progression but we’ve ramped it up here the past week or so and it has been good,” Luongo told George Richards of the Miami Herald.
“I’m not 100 percent; it’s a five month rehab. But I’m feeling better than I thought I would. I thought it would be a slower progression, especially on the ice. It has gone fairly quickly and I’m happy about that. If the season were to start tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t be able to go. But I feel good where I’m at and I’m excited about it.”
Because of Luongo’s age — he’ll celebrate his 38th birthday next April, just before the playoffs begin — the Panthers made a prudent move in free agency by signing James Reimer to a five-year deal, worth a total value of $17 million.
To add further depth at the goalie position, the Panthers also brought in Reto Berra.
The Panthers, at least based on what GM Tom Rowe has said, are in no rush to bring Luongo back until he’s ready.
“Everything will be determined by how Lou gets through the offseason with his rehabilitation. Right now, it’s going really well. We’ll take it one day at a time. We don’t want to rush him back. We want him to come back on his schedule and just make sure we’re doing everything the right way,” said Rowe in July.
Signing Reimer is a move for the future, both long and short term.
He could, this season, take a considerable amount of games as a reliable No. 2, which could help keep Luongo’s energy levels up. And that should be very beneficial for the Panthers, considering Luongo still had a very good season as one of the oldest starters in the league.
Last season, Luongo appeared in 62 regular season games for the Panthers. He posted strong numbers, with a .922 save percentage. He followed that up in the post-season with a .934 save percentage in six games.
He saw plenty of playing time, more than 3,600 minutes. He faced more than 1,800 shots. It all took a toll, as he expressed fatigue in the playoffs.
The expectation is the Panthers make it back to the post-season, perhaps do some damage, too.
Having a rested and refreshed Luongo in goal would certainly help their cause.
Selected fourth overall in 2008, Pietrangelo has played 459 games for the Blues, with 51 goals and 255 points in that span. He takes over the ‘C’ from David Backes, who signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent this summer, following the Blues’ run to the Western Conference Final.
“Watching him perform when the game is on the line, he doesn’t seem to get rattled,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong of Pietrangelo, as per the club’s website.
“As the captain, you have to answer questions, the tough questions when games are over. I really like his personality, his demeanor to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to the media. He’s someone that has the respect of everyone.”
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the end of July, Pietrangelo praised Backes for the impact he had on the young defenseman as he was developing with the Blues.
“I think being so close with Dave over the five years he was captain, I’ve learned a lot from him just kind of sitting back and seeing how he operates on a daily basis,” said Pietrangelo.
“Not only on the ice but off the ice, which is a big part of it trying to keep the locker room together and doing the off-ice stuff.”
Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.
On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.
The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.
However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season. Taking on Bolland’s salary was a “necessary component” in completing the deal, said Coyotes GM John Chayka.
Last season, Bolland was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions, which could be frustrating for any player or any organization, but he was locked into a massive five-year, $27.5 million contract.
And that massive contract, or Florida’s desire to move it along, has cost the Panthers a prospect forward.
Pavel Datsyuk’s venture into the KHL has been official for a while.
This latest development might add salt in the wound of Red Wings fans who wish the skilled but aging center was still playing for the Original Six franchise.
He has now scored his first goal since returning to the KHL. Another former NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk, set it up off the rush. Datsyuk finished off the play with a slick backhander coming down the right wing.
After it took weeks to decide his future with the Red Wings, Detroit finally unloaded his contract to Arizona at the draft in June.