An interesting name on the waiver wire today — Dylan Olsen, the Florida defenseman taken 28th overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Olsen, 24, was acquired by Florida from Chicago in last year’s Kris Versteeg trade, and started brightly with the Panthers by scoring nine points in his first 17 games.
He’s had a tougher go of things this year, though, and has been a healthy scratch on a few occasions; the arrivals of Willie Mitchell and Aaron Ekblad pushed Olsen into a bottom-pairing role and he played just 11:42 in his last game, a 5-4 loss to Detroit on Tuesday.
In a move that’s connected to putting Olsen on waivers, the Panthers called up d-man Alex Petrovic from AHL San Antonio on Wednesday.
Olsen is in the first of a two-year, $1.55 million deal that carries a $775,000 annual cap hit. He’ll be a RFA when it expires in 2016.
The Panthers will be without one of their minutes leaders this week for a pair of home dates against the Sharks and Isles.
Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, third on the team at 22:26 TOI per game, won’t play in tomorrow’s tilt against San Jose or Friday’s against New York because of a knee injury suffered over the weekend, per head coach Gerard Gallant.
More, from the Miami Herald:
Gallant said Kulikov is scheduled for a second MRI, but the team doesn’t think the injury is serious.
Kulikov watched Monday’s practice without crutches, but Gallant said he wouldn’t play the next two games at minimum.
“He won’t play the next two games and hopefully we know more by the West Coast road trip,” Gallant said. “We should know more later in the week.”
With Kulikov out, Colby Robak — who’s been playing as a forward — will be paired with Brian Campbell on defense, leaving rookie Aaron Ekblad to skate with captain Willie Mitchell. Erik Gudbranson and Dylan Olsen make up the other unit.
It’ll be interesting to see how Florida fares without Kulikov in the lineup. The club is playing .500 hockey — 4-4-4 through 12 games — but has a really tough stretch coming up after the Islanders game, with four consecutive road dates in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Nashville.
On Wednesday, Aaron Ekblad — the No. 1 selection at this June’s draft — took a major step towards beginning his NHL career by signing a three-year, entry-level contract with Florida.
“We are very pleased to have signed Aaron,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said in a statement. “He is a talented, strong, smart and hardworking defenseman who is ready to take the next step in his professional career.
“We look forward to watching him compete and develop at our prospects camp, throughout our main training camp and in preseason competition.”
Financial terms of the deal weren’t released but Ekblad, 18, is limited by the CBA for what he can earn annually (last year’s top pick, Nathan MacKinnon, had a $925,000 cap hit but made $3.775M with signing and performance bonuses.)
As for his spot with the Panthers…Ekblad looks to be in line for a top-6 spot next to Brian Campbell, Willie Mitchell, Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson and Dylan Olsen. That said, he will be challenged by a pair of fellow youngsters (Colby Robak and Alex Petrovic), and there are reports claiming veteran d-man Shane O’Brien is headed to Florida’s training camp on a PTO.
It’s also worth noting that, as per Tallon’s statement above, Ekblad will participate in both Florida’s prospects and full training camp, meaning he’s cleared to play after suffering a concussion in an exhibition game on Aug. 4 during Canada’s world junior summer development camp.