Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett hasn’t played a game this season, but that may change on Saturday night after the 27-year-old practiced in full with his team on Friday.
Bennett “could” be back in the lineup when the Cats host the Seattle Kraken at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, per Reuters.
“It feels great,” Bennett said after practice on Friday regarding his lower-body injury. “When you’ve been out for a while, you really miss being out there.”
Bennett sustained the injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a preseason contest on Oct. 5; he hasn’t played since. He was back between his usual linemates — Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe — in back-to-back practices on Thursday and Friday.
The former Calgary Flames forward has scored 44 goals over the past two seasons, including a solid showing in 2022-23 in which he recorded 40 points in 63 games. Bennett was excellent for Florida during the team’s electric run to the Stanley Cup Final, scoring five goals and 15 points in 20 games as the Cats came within three wins of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Although both Tkachuk and Verhaeghe are struggling relative to their usual production, bringing Bennett back into the fold will be a huge boost. The Tkachuk-Verhaeghe-Bennett line outscored opponents 23-12 last season.
Besides Bennett, both captain Sasha Barkov and Dmitry Kulikov have been battling the flu, and both are expected to return to the lineup on Saturday. Once the three return, the team will be missing just defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour, who remain on injured reserve.