Young defenseman Alex Petrovic was the early-line favorite for a spot on the Panthers' blue line coming out of training camp in September.

After all, the 6-foot-4 Petrovic was coming off a solid first professional season in San Antonio of the AHL and despite a minus-8 on-ice rating in six NHL games with the Panthers at the end of last year, he displayed toughness as well as a booming slap shot.

However, Petrovic had an awful camp and was among the first group of cuts as the front office elected to keep NHL retreads such as Ryan Whitney and Matt Gilroy, as well as last-minute PTO signing Tom Gilbert to go with core defensemen: Erik Gudbranson, Mike Weaver, Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Campbell.

Now Petrovic, 21, will get his second chance to be a full-time NHLer as he will fill in for Gudbranson, who will miss the next 2-4 weeks while recovering from orbital bone surgery.

Petrovic was thrown right into a Lightning storm in Monday's 6-1 rout as the Panthers kicked off a crucial five-game homestand with a clunker.