The Florida Panthers were already missing rugged defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who is shelved for up to two months with a broken hand.
so the Panthers really hated to lose emerging offensive defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who will miss the next six to eight weeks after undergoing minor knee surgery.
Kuikov scored four goals and earned 20 assists in 46 games, averaging better than 22 minutes of ice time. He was a key piece component for Florida's effort to build an up-tempo offense.
Future star Erik Gudbranson must carry a bigger load on defense, along with Keaton Ellerby and journeyman Tyson Strachan. The first few weeks after the All-Star break could be problematic.
"That's one area that we've been very fortunate this year," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Unfortunately, that's being tested right now. As always, it gives someone else an opportunity.”