After the Panthers skated Monday morning at Saveology.com Iceplex, coach Kevin Dineen said veteran forward Kris Versteeg and 2012-13 NHL Rookie of the Year Jonathan Huberdeau could make their preseason debut Thursday.
Huberdeau is coming off hip surgery. Versteeg had season-ending knee surgery in March after playing only 10 games of the lockout-shortened season. The Panthers play Tampa Bay at Germain Arena in Estero, about 90 minutes across Interstate 75 from the BB&T Center.
“We’re tentatively scheduling to have Kris Versteeg and Jonathan Huberdeau in the lineup on Thursday, and I think that is encouraging for us to see them,” Dineen said. “They’re right on schedule, exactly where we expect them to be.”
Goalie Tim Thomas, in training camp on a tryout basis, also might participate.
“He’s been here, he’s had a great week of practice. He was really strong out there [Monday]. I was really happy with the way things have gone for Tim,” Dineen said. “I still think I’m on that day-to-day evaluation. I’ll get a feel for where he’s at. I have not committed to seeing him play on Thursday yet.”
On Sunday, the Panthers sliced from the roster forwards Jon Matsumoto, Greg Rallo and Scott Timmins, defenseman Mike Caruso and goalie Michael Houser, all of whom were sent to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio.