2 Surprising Cuts Panthers Made In Training Camp

Four of the five skaters that were the Florida Panthers final cuts are surprising considering some of the players still on the roster. The Panthers are dealing with some cap constraints which led to the decisions, but none of these players earn a ton of money anyway.

Aleksi Heponiemi

Aleksi Heponiemi is the most surprising of the group considering he can still be considered one of the team's top forward prospects. The concern was that he had to go through waivers if the team sent him down. He was very much at risk of being claimed.

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft, he has always been a very strong playmaker and even posted 90 assists in 57 games the season after he was drafted in the WHL. He has hardly been given a shot in the NHL, playing just 15 total games, six of which came last season. They should have found a spot for him in the lineup as he is NHL-ready.

Lucas Carlsson

The Panthers traded for Lucas Carlsson last year and he got into 40 games with the team. Though he didn't have a lot of big minutes, he was primed for a larger role this season with the departure of Mackenzie Weegar. That didn't appear to be the case as the 25-year-old defenceman was sent down through waivers.

Chris Tierney

Chris Tierney played 70 games last season for the Ottawa Senators and has been an NHL-regular for eight seasons. At just 28 years old, it was surprising that the Panthers didn't even just keep him around as an extra forward on their roster.

He has fallen quickly, but just a short few seasons ago he managed to put together consecutive 40-point seasons and play in the top-six. The confidence has dropped, but the skill is still there. It was an interesting decision not to keep him around and insert him into the lineup here and there.

Michael Del Zotto

Micahel Del Zotto was actually very effective in the short amount of games he got into last season. It was confusing last season, and it is surprising this season how teams pass on him. As a defenceman, he scored three goals and 13 points in 26 games in 2021-22.

This preseason, it was expected that he earned a spot as the sixth or seventh defenceman. As I stated above, with Weegar gone, it opened up an opportunity and the Panthers need help on the back-end. Instead, they kept a waiver-exempt Matt Kiersted around and claimed Josh Mahura off of waivers.

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