Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg has been medically cleared to return to game action for the first time since tearing his ACL in March.
He rehabbed extensively during the summer.
"I've talked to a lot of guys who have had it done like [Tomas] Kopecky and [Scottie] Upshall, you just trust their opinion, more so you got to trust your doctor, trust your surgeon what he did to you is going to make you better first, and understand that and go through your physical therapy," Versteeg told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. "The staff here in Florida did a tremendous job with me the first two months, then I went home [to Lethrbridge, Alberta] and worked with a guy named Tim back home and my own trainer and they got me to where I am today."
Versteeg was third on the Panthers with 54 points in 2011-12, helping Florida win the Southeast Division title and make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2000. He tore up his knee against Tampa Bay on March 12 and underwent surgery. He's scheduled to play Thursday night against the Lightning.
The Panthers need him to help rebound from a 2012-13 season that saw them finish last in the overall standings.
"It's definitely a lot of commitment," Versteeg told the paper. "I'm excited to what I can do this year."
Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau is also expected to make his preseason debut for the Panthers on Thursday.