Malgin looks for scoring touch
McKegg lost on waivers to Lightning
SUNRISE — While the Florida Panthers will be looking to their top players to get their playoff ambitions back on course, turnover at the bottom of the roster provided drama the day after their third consecutive loss on the current homestand.
Practice began Monday with four forwards in the green jersey of the fourth line as Denis Malgin rejoined the club a day after being called up from the minors. Before the session ended there were only three as Greg McKegg was called off the ice after being claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Panthers were hoping to slip McKegg through waivers to gain roster flexibility leading up to Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
“Itwas a gamble. Disappointed that we lost him,” interim coach Tom Rowe said. “He’s a great kid. But good for him. You’ve got to manage the roster and sometimes you’re going to lose a player that you like. But it’s an opportunity for Malgin to come in here and get going and play like he did the first 10 games.
Malgin was a surprise to open the season with the Panthers as a 19-year-old after
showing dynamic offensive prowess in a rookie tournament and during training camp. He got off to an impressive start with four goals and eight points in his first 17 games.
But he didn’t register another point in his next 22 games before being sent for seasoning with Springfield in the AHL a day after he turned 20 last month.
“I think itwas a good for me, a new experience, the AHL. I played a lot there and got back tomy hockey,” Malgin said after receiving an ovation from team mates upon entering the dressing room following practice at the BB&T Center. “I worked on my shot, everything to get my self-confidence back. I’m happy to be back.”
The diminutive Swiss got to play major minutes for Springfield, including on the power play, and rekindled his scoring touch with 12 points (three goals) in 15 games.
Rowe said Malgin will be in the lineup on the fourth line tonight against Carolina.
“My goal is to stay here as long as possible,” Malgin said.
The stint in the minors was partly to rebuild confidence but more so to gain the lessons in being a pro thatwere missed in his rapid ascension to the Panthers. A fourth-round draft pick in 2015, he went directly from the Swiss A league last season to the NHL.
“He wasn’t practicing the right way here, wasn’t working hard enough in practice,” Rowe said of Malgin’s first tour. “That’s what happens when you’re a young kid — you don’t knowwhat’s expected.”
Rowe saw a difference Monday.
“His practice habits were a lot better today. His pace was real good,” Rowe said. “He was a little too casual when he was here the first time, and I thought hewas a lot better today.”
McKegg also received applause from teammates as word spread he was headed across the state. The Ontario native had six points (three goals) in 31 games this season for the Panthers. He logged 46 of his 50 NHL games since
being acquired from Toronto in an offseason trade in 2015.
He had been a healthy scratch the past fourgames.
“It’s always tough when you’re out of the lineup for a stretch of games. It’s exciting to go over [to Tampa] and maybe get in few more games,” he said, adding, “I loved being here too. They gave mea pretty big chance to play for a good amount of time, and I’m real appreciative of that.”
Despite the three home losses since a five-game road sweep, Rowe said he doesn’t see a need for a major move before the trade deadline.
“I like the group we’ve got,” Rowe said. “This is a great group of guys. They’ve always bounced back. I said it lastweek: We are going to be in the playoffs. We’ve just got to get a few pucks bouncing for us and going in the net.”
Cup at the beach
Fans can get a photo opp with the Stanley Cup when the Panthers host an NHL 100 Beach Event on Friday at Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Part of a NHL Centennial Fan Arena will be set up at the promenade at A1A and Las Olas Boulevard with various activities from 3-7 p.m., including the Mardi Gras Casino Fanboni and Clear The Ice Zamboni VR Experience. There is no charge to attend.
Denis Malgin is back with the Panthers after an extended stay in the AHL. He started off hot with Florida early in the year before cooling off and being sent down.