NHL Rumors: Florida Panthers to Receive Huge Boost Ahead of Game 1

The Florida Panthers are an absolute wagon after one of the best NHL regular seasons in recent memory. The team could care less about the regular season success however, as the 'real' season begins Monday night with the Stanley Cup playoffs kicking off across the league. Each team is banged up as the regular season is a grind, but perhaps nobody is missing the type of impact player the Panthers are. Turns out there's a chance stud defenseman Aaron Ekblad suits up in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Washington Capitals.

As head coach Andrew Brunette put it, 'there's a chance' we see Ekblad in the series opener after he went through a full workload at practice on Sunday and the team will check in with him early Monday morning to get a sense of his recovery from the heavy work. Ekblad's been sidelined since March 18 after a nasty leg injury took him out of action.

The 26-year-old has the ability to take over the game and was making huge strides in all elements of his game before the gruesome injury put him on the shelve. In 61 games this season, the former first overall pick registered a career-high 57 points. 

The Panthers and Capitals gear up for what should be a fast paced series with a ton of goals. Panthers in five if Ekblad plays, Panthers in six if he doesn't.

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports