Thursday Offseason Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

Final three spots in 2022 Olympics up for grabs

The final three spots in the 12-team men’s tournament at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China are up for grabs with play beginning today.

Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, United States, Germany, Switzerland, the top eight teams in the IIHF rankings after the 2019 World Championship, and host China have already qualified.

The 12 countries still looking to get into the main draw are broken into three four-team groups, with the winner of each group after round-robin play earning a spot in Beijing 2022.

NHLers taking part in the Final Qualification round include Anze Kopitar (Slovenia), Mats Zuccarello (Norway), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (France), Antoine Roussel (France), Alexandre Texier (France), Nikolaj Ehlers (Denmark) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (Denmark).

Group D consists of Slovakia, Belarus, Austria and Poland. The tournament will be held at the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava.

Today’s games

Belarus vs Poland

Austria vs Slovakia

Group E consists of Latvia, France, Italy and Hungary. The tournament will be played at the Arēna Rīga in Riga.

Today’s games

France vs Hungary

Italy vs Latvia

Group F consists of Norway, Denmark, South Korea and Slovenia. The tournament will be played at the Jordal Amfi in Oslo.

Today’s games

Denmark vs Slovenia

South Korea vs Norway

Women’s World Championship

Finland picked up its first win of the tournament with a 4-0 shutout of Russia in the only Group A game yesterday. The Finns are currently in third place in the group.

The Czech Republic clinched Group B with a 2-0 win over Germany. By virtue of winning its group, the Czechs will play the third place team from Group A in the quarterfinals, avoiding the United States and Canada.

In a battle of two winless teams, Hungary thrashed Denmark by a 5-1 count to take fourth place in Group B.

Today’s games

Group A: Finland (1-2) vs Switzerland (0-3) 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Group A: United States (3-0) vs Canada (3-0) 6 p.m. (NHL Network)

Group B: Japan (2-1) vs Germany (2-1) 9:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

NHL signings

The Seattle Kraken signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Gustav Olofsson to a one-year, two-way contract. Olofsson, 26, appeared in 24 games with the Laval Rocket and produced a goal and 12 points in 2020-21. This signing is of note to Florida Panthers fans as Olofsson is likely to see time with the Charlotte Checkers this season. (Kraken Official)

The Philadelphia Flyers signed former Panthers forward Derick Brassard to a one-year contract worth $825K. Brassard spent last season with the Arizona Coyotes, where he put up 20 points in 53 games. (Broad Street Hockey)

The Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Carson Lambos to an entry-level contract. Lambos was takenby the Wild  in the first round (26th overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. (Hockey Wilderness)

The Calgary Flames re-upped forwards Glenn Gawdin and Justin Kirkland to one year, two-way deals, keeping them with the franchise for 2021-22. Both players were members of the Stockton Heat in 2020-21. Gawdin appeared in seven games with the Flames and notched his first NHL point with an assist. (Matchsticks and Gasoline)

Panthers Underground Poll o’ the day

Will Aleksander Barkov hit 100 points this season?