The Panthers released their 32-man training camp roster late Saturday night with one glaring omission.
Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov isn’t at camp as he remains an unsigned restricted free agent. Kulikov went to Russia to play for Yaroslavl Lokamotiv, his childhood team, and is reportedly still in his hometown.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon didn’t speak to the media Sunday but said Thursday that he was speaking to Kulikov’s agent on a daily basis. Coach Kevin Dineen said he expects Tallon to clarify the issue in the coming days.
The Panthers retain the rights to Kulikov, who has played three seasons in the NHL. Kulikov has three goals and three assists in 22 games for Lokomotiv.
“I’m a big Dmitry fan,” Dineen said after Florida’s start of camp Sunday morning. “I thought he really did a good job. He’s very young in his development. Defensemen take a little time to develop, same as goalies. ... He’s really on track and is a player we envision having a long and successful NHL career.”
Kulikov, 22, said before leaving for Russia that he wanted to return to the Panthers and had no desire to play in the KHL.
Kulikov, the 14th overall pick in 2009, bought himself out of his contract with Lokomotiv when he was 18, allowing him to start that season as a rookie with the Panthers.
The Panthers will hold their first official practice since last year’s playoffs Monday morning and will likely do so without two of their top defensemen.
Not only is Kulikov expected to be out, but it’s not known whether Erik Gudbranson’s surgically repaired shoulder has been cleared for practice. Gudbranson said he feels good but wouldn’t comment further.
“You are missing two top players for us last year,” Dineen said. “I’ll deal with it, and we’ll be fine. But am I comfortable with it? No. I want nine quality defensemen. I’m a better coach with those two in the lineup, I just am.”
• Winger Sean Bergenheim was back at the Panthers’ training facility but said he couldn’t comment about a potential groin injury sustained while playing in Finland early on in the lockout.
Bergenheim was slowed by a groin injury last season; After working out in South Florida when the lockout began, Bergenheim left for his hometown of Helsinki, where he played just two games for HIFK before being injured Oct. 2.
“It was great to be able to play in my country, my hometown,” Bergenheim said.
• Dineen said he would name a team captain sometime this week. Florida has been without a captain since trading Bryan McCabe
• The Panthers will hold an intrasquad scrimmage at the Saveology.com Iceplex on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Florida will not practice that morning but will hold a workout and the simulated game in the evening.
Dineen said the Panthers would likely call up some players from Cincinnati of the ECHL to help fill the two teams.
• Florida called up seven players from AHL San Antonio for the start of training camp although only defenseman Tyson Strachan — who has not played in the past few games — was present Sunday.
The rest of the players were traveling but will practice Monday.
Dineen said that Florida will not open the season carrying three goalies. Unless either Jose Theodore or Scott Clemmensen gets injured, Jacob Markstrom will be headed back to the San Antonio Rampage.