By David Dwork

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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The new hockey season has finally arrived.

After a long summer of waiting, the NHL’s 2017-18 schedule will kick off with a handful of teams in action on Wednesday night.

The Florida Panthers will have a wait a couple more days before getting the new season started though.

The Panthers drop the puck on their latest campaign Friday night in Tampa Bay.

The two teams will face off the following night as well, this time on the Panthers home ice in Sunrise.

On Wednesday, Florida officially released it’s 23-man Opening Night roster.

While the majority of the team was locked in prior to training camp, there were a few spots left for prospects and veterans to battle for.

Owen Tippett, selected 10th overall by Florida in June’s NHL Entry Draft, made the team, though he may only be sticking around for a few weeks.

The 18-year-old can play nine games in the NHL before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in.

Once he plays in nine games, the Panthers have the option of keeping him for the season or sending him back to his junior team in the Ontario Hockey League.

“Kudos to him for making the 23 [man roster],” said head coach Bob Boughner. “He’s got a lot to learn but you can’t mistake his offensive abilities.”

Other players that earned their spot during training camp are forwards Connor Brickley and Jared McCann and defensemen MacKenzie Weegar and Ian McCoshen.

Here is Florida’s official 23-man Opening Night roster:

No. Name Position
1 Roberto Luongo G
3 Keith Yandle D
5 Aaron Ekblad D
6 Alex Petrovic D
7 Colton Sceviour F
11 Jonathan Huberdeau F
12 Ian McCoshen D
13 Mark Pysyk D
16 Aleksander Barkov F
17 Derek MacKenzie (C) F
18 Micheal Haley F
19 Mike Matheson D
21 Vincent Trocheck F
23 Connor Brickley F
27 Nick Bjugstad F
34 James Reimer G
52 MacKenzie Weegar D
62 Denis Malgin F
63 Evgenii Dadonov F
71 Radim Vrbata F
74 Owen Tippett F
88 Jamie McGinn F
90 Jared McCann F

Boughner has already said that Roberto Luongo will be the starting goalie for Friday’s season opener.

Expect James Reimer to start the following night when the Panthers host Tampa at the BB&T Center.

During practice this week the Panthers have been running with the following lines:


While things are fluid and can change at any time, it appears that Tippett, Malgin and Weegar are in line to be scratches on Friday.

“I think it’s still going to be a process and we will adjust things as we go,” Boughner said.


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