There was a time when Corban Knight didn’t want to play for the Panthers.
Monday isn’t one of them.
With Derek MacKenzie out with injury and four forwards missing practice with illness, Knight was brought up from the minors and will likely be in the Florida lineup Tuesday in Brooklyn against the Islanders.
Knight was a fifth-round draft pick of the Panthers in 2009 and went on to have a strong career at North Dakota.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
When it came time to sign with Florida, the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, and general manager Dale Tallon traded Knight’s rights to his hometown Calgary Flames.
“The hockey world can be crazy sometimes,” Knight said. “All I know is I’m happy to be back here now, try to help the team win games. ... When you get the call it’s a thrill. To be back up in the league is special.”
Last year, with the Panthers having trouble finding playing time for Drew Shore, Tallon traded him to the Flames — for Knight.
“He’s a very smart player, and I like smart players,” Tallon said Monday. “He had ties to Calgary — that’s where he is from. You can’t fault him. We ended up getting a draft pick from Calgary so they could talk and sign him. That’s the way it goes.”
Knight played in nine games for the Flames but none since being traded back to the Panthers.
This year, Knight said he sustained a herniated disc in his back after being sent back Florida’s AHL team in Portland, Maine, this season. The injury limited him to just three games.
One of those games was Saturday with Tallon in attendance. Knight made quite the impression because here he is with the Panthers.
“Coming back from injury, it’s nice to get that call right away,” Knight said. “I’m definitely excited to be back, try and help these guys out. It’s nice to have the opportunity, but I feel good. I eased back into it. I don’t see my back being a problem.”
Said Tallon: “I saw him play Saturday and liked his game. He’s a smart player, good faceoff guy, a two-way player. Very intelligent. I thought based on our needs and losing MacKenzie for a few days, he was a good fit.”
▪ Florida’s practice Monday at the Devils’ Prudential Center was a little light on players.
The Panthers were missing Jaromir Jagr, Sasha Barkov, Dave Bolland and Reilly Smith because of illness, Tallon said.
“It’s the flu bug,” Tallon said. “[Vincent] Trocheck had it and played sick. Hopefully, they’ve had two days to get over it. But Portland isn’t too far away if we need to call others up.”
MacKenzie sustained a lower-body injury Saturday in Boston but was walking around without much of a limp and is considered day-to-day.
“We’re very optimistic,” Tallon said.
▪ Coach Gerard Gallant was also missing to attend to a family matter in Canada. Gallant was expected to return to the New York area Monday night and join the team for Tuesday’s morning skate.
▪ Tuesday will mark the Panthers’ first game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Islanders moved from their longtime home at the Nassau Coliseum this season.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” said goalie Al Montoya, who spent two seasons with the Islanders. “I kind of embraced the moment last year when I realized that was our last game there. I enjoyed it, have great memories of that building. I’m looking forward to seeing [Barclays]. It’s Long Island, but you feel like you’re in the mix of midtown.”
When/where: 7 p.m.; Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640, WNMA 1210.
Series: Florida leads 42-35-8.
Scouting report: Since losing to the Panthers 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 27, the Islanders have been scorching hot and have won seven of the past eight, including five consecutive games on their new home ice.