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Panthers' top forwards could miss rest of season

Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau recovering from injury but might not return until 2017-18

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are recovering from injury, but Florida Panthers coach Tom Rowe said Thursday there's a possibility one or both might not return this season.

Huberdeau has yet to play this season because of an Achilles injury sustained Oct. 8 in the Panthers' final preseason game. Barkov has been sidelined since Dec. 28, when he left a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs because of an upper-body injury.

"Those are two franchise-type players and we're certainly not going to rush them back," Rowe said. "They'll be back in the lineup when everybody feels they're ready to play. Yeah, you're always concerned about it [being season-ending], but we're not consumed with it every day. We're moving forward and playing with the guys we have, and when they're ready to come back, they'll be welcome. It'll be a huge boost to us."

The Panthers next play at the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, FS-F, NHL.TV).

Rowe said Huberdeau was scheduled to return in early March but did not provide a timetable for Barkov.

Huberdeau and Barkov make up two-thirds of the Panthers' top line, along with right wing Jaromir Jagr.

Barkov led the Panthers last season with 28 goals, and he and Huberdeau were tied for third with 59 points. 

The Panthers recalled goalie Reto Berra from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Thursday. James Reimer, who made 27 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, flew to South Florida after the game to be with his wife, who is expecting to give birth. Rowe said Reimer likely would rejoin the Panthers after their four-game road trip, which ends Monday at the Arizona Coyotes.

Rookie forward Denis Malgin was assigned to Springfield. He has four goals and four assists in 39 games but was a healthy scratch three of the past four games and didn't have a point in his past 22 games.

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