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Pete DeBoer: Gudbranson Deserves a Shot ... Four to Miss Final Preseason Weekend ... FLA Lineup

GudbransondraftPete DeBoer said today that the Erik Gudbranson situation isn't in his hands.

If it was, the kid would stay.

Gudbranson, 18, could be in his final days with the Panthers. Florida would have to sign the third overall pick of the 2010 draft by Wednesday for him to be eligible to start his nine game NHL test.

The Panthers can use Gudbranson in nine NHL games and then send him back to the juniors without burning the first year of his contract timeline (basically, if Gudbranson gets a full year of NHL credit this year, he could become a free agent at age 25).

If the Panthers don't sign Gudbranson -- as of Wednesday, the Panthers said they have had just basic conversations with his agent -- they could cut him on Sunday and send him back to the juniors.

DeBoer said Gudbranson has earned his keep but knows there are obstacles. He also said comparing him to Dmitry Kulikov's situation wasn't fair because they play a different style of game.

More from Pete once OnFrozenFilm gets loaded up.

-- The three players we knew were hurt (Higgins, Kulikov and Bitz) are out for the weekend, but should be back to practice on Monday.

DeBoer told us today that Keaton Ellerby is also out for the weekend with a dinged up shoulder.

-- DeBoer says that Tomas Vokoun will play the entire game tonight.

-- Florida's lineup for Friday's game: