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Newly re-signed Dmitry Kulikov scratched for opener

Jan 19, 2013, 5:21 PM EDT

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Dmitry Kulikov #7 of the Florida Panthers skates against the New Jersey Devils in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on April 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils shutout the Panthers 4-0.
(April 18, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

The Florida Panthers managed to re-sign restricted free agent Dmitry Kulikov just before the start of the season, but it looks like they were still a little too late, based on a Miami Herald report.

Without a contract, Kulikov stayed in Russia even after the lockout ended and only returned to North America on Thursday. After missing most of training camp and suffering from a serious case of jet lag, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen decided that Kulikov isn’t ready to play.

“You have to look at a guy, whether he helps you,” Dineen said. “Frankly it’s disappointing he’s not ready to play. There are different ways around it, but he’s not playing tonight.

“He’s a guy who’s had some time and should be ready to go. He signed a contract yesterday, fortunately passed his physical. He’ll play Monday.”

Kulikov was a big part of the Panthers’ defense last season and averaged a career-high 21:51 minutes per game. He had six points and 28 penalty minutes in 22 KHL games during the work stoppage.

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