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.