Panthers’ lethal top line lost their Dadonov

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Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon is thankful that his vision guides the franchise once again, but the results for his renovation have often been pretty unappealing so far in 2017-18.

That said, the Panthers’ top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Evgenii Dadonov has been electric, with Dadonov’s return to the NHL being a smash success. Even with some slow production for Dadonov in his past few games, he’s been outstanding by metrics both fancy and simple, including generating 18 points in 22 games. Dadonov’s addition/return sure seems to be the no-brainer highlight of an otherwise polarizing (if not just flat-out poor) summer.

Unfortunately, a shoulder injury really spoils the fun for “Dad,” however, as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks. That news comes from a variety of reports, including Panthers play-by-play announcer Steve Goldstein.

Dadonov probably suffered his shoulder injury thanks to this hit by Cody Franson of the Chicago Blackhawks:

Early on, it looks like the dynamic duo of Barkov and Huberdeau will see Denis Malgin as their new winger. Malgin, 20, was recently recalled from the AHL; he scored 10 points in 47 games last season and was unable to generate a goal or an assist in five regular-season contests in 2017-18, though he was receiving less than 10 minutes of ice time per night.

Dadonov, Barkov, and Huberdeau were essentially attached at the hip at even-strength so far this season, so if there’s a drop-off with Malgin/assorted other forwards, it will be that much easier to see how much of a difference Dadonov makes.

The Panthers are taking on the Devils in New Jersey tonight. Florida’s currently ranked second-to-last in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 18 points (8-12-2). On paper, losing Dadonov will only exacerbate this team’s issues, and it must sting to see Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith stand as such strong contributors for the Vegas Golden Knights.

(Marchessault was named the NHL’s first star of the week. Ouch.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.