The Florida Panthers announced on Tuesday that defenseman Dimitri Kulikov underwent knee surgery on Monday, which is reportedly expected to keep him out of the line-up for 6-to-8 weeks.
The Panthers currently sit atop of the Southeast Division, holding a slim lead at that, but if they are going to be in the playoffs, they would be much better suited to have Kulikov running at 100% when they get to the playoffs, then running at much less than that to try and get into the playoffs, risking further injury.
The eight weeks on the shelf has Kulikov scheduled to return around the middle of March, giving the defender a few weeks to work on his game speed, just before the playoffs.
Kulikov has been enjoying a pretty good season with the Panthers in the 2012 season, scoring 4 goals and 20 assists in 46 games, scoring just above half a point-per-game this year. He goes out of the line-up ranked 196th in overall pool scoring, 21st among all defensemen. Unfortunately for him, that will be the highest rank he'll achieve this season, with the extended absence he will have with the injury.
This likely means that Peter H. will be dropping Kulikov at the second waiver draft, which could start just as early as Thursday morning. Peter will have a pretty high pick in this second draft, since his team currently sits in 19th place, currently in a tie for the spot, but has more games to be played between Tuesday and Wednesday than his opponent, so he could be picking 4th before it is all said and done.
Getting a high pick like this will actually do more to hinder the teams that are fighting for the money than help himself, but that should be just fine by him.