CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Slowly but surely, hockey is making its way back into our lives.
The Florida Panthers hit the ice on Monday as the NHL officially moved into Phase 3 of its Return to Play Plan.
Training camps for all 24 teams participating in the postseason have officially begun, with each club getting a couple weeks to get back into as close to game shape as they can before heading to their respective hub cities.
For Eastern Conference squads that means heading to Toronto, while the Western Conference will be hunkering down in Edmonton, which is also where the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be played.
Just as Florida's players hit the ice in Coral Springs on Monday, the team released its official training camp roster.
As of last week, around 20 players were taking part in voluntary workouts at the Ice Den as part of Phase 2 of the NHL's Return to Play Plan, and Head Coach Joel Quenneville said he expected to have upwards of 24 Panthers at the rink over the weekend.
The hope is that the strong attendance when it wasn't mandatory, that sign of dedication and determination, signifies the Panthers will be able to hit the ground running as they prepare for what is hoped to be a long stay inside the league's quarantine bubble.
Training camp will last just about two weeks, after which the team will pack everything up and head north to Ontatio on July 26.
Game 1 against the Islanders is scheduled for Aug. 1.
With a completely healthy roster, there won't be many fresh faces at the Ice Den.
The Panthers decided to go with only 26 skaters (the maximum is 30) and four goaltenders, bringing fewer bodies to camp than the majority of the teams around the league.
Here is the team’s Training Camp 2.0 roster:
Forwards: Colton Sceviour, Brian Boyle, Brett Connolly, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dominic Toninato, Aleksander Barkov, Aleksi Saarela, Noel Acciari, Erik Haula, Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, Lucas Wallmark, Dryden Hunt, Owen Tippett, Frank Vatrano, Eetu Luostarinen
Defensemen: Josh Brown, Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad, Anton Stralman, Mark Pysyk, Mike Matheson, Chase Priskie, Brady Keeper, MacKenzie Weegar, Riley Stillman
Goaltenders: Samuel Montembeault, Philippe Desrosiers, Chris Driedger, Sergei Bobrovsky
The new additions are forwards Owen Tippett and Eetu Luostarinen, defensemen Chase Priskie and Brady Keeper, and goaltender Philippe Desrosiers.
Luostarinen, Priskie, Haula, Wallmark are the four players acquired in the trade deadline deal that sent Vincent Trocheck to Carolina, a move that appears to be working out nicely for Florida.
While it remains to be seen if Priskie or Loustarinen will crack the lineup during the postaeason, just their presence at training camp speaks volumes to where they are valued in the franchise's hierarchy of young players.
If Priskie, a native of Pembroke Pines, does get into a game, it would be the 24-year-old's NHL debut.
Tippett, Florida's first round pick in 2017, and Keeper have already played at least one game in a Panthers sweater, but neither had been with the big club this season.
One notable absence from the Panthers training camp roster is 2016 first round pick Henrik Borgstrom, who may not be completely healthy after suffering a late-season injury while playing for the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield.
It will be interesting to see how Quenneville incorporates the AHL guys into Florida's lineup during practices, and whether any are given prominent spots on the roster.
Of the four, the one most people will be keeping an eye on is Tippett. He continuously showed improvement in Springfield as the season progressed, leading the Thunderbirds with 40 points (19-21-40) in just 46 games.
Tippett is known for his elite shot and playmaking ability and has maintained a very high ceiling as a future (or perhaps current) member of Florida’s top six.