Shawn Thornton returns to Panthers lineup

Florida Panthers right wing Shawn Thornton has recorded one goal, one assist and 27 penalty minutes in 22 games for the Panthers this season.

Winslow Townson/Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida Panthers enforcer Shawn Thornton, who has missed the past 20 games with a groin injury, will return to the lineup Thursday night when the team hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"He competes and plays hard," Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant said after Thursday’s morning skate at the BB&T Center. "We just need him going up and down and playing the same way he played before he got hurt. He’s a character guy and he’s really good for our locker room and good for our team."

Thornton, 37, has recorded one goal, one assist and 27 penalty minutes in 22 games for the Panthers this season. He was activated off injured reserve on Thursday morning.

"I’m excited," said Thornton, who signed a two-year deal with Florida last summer. "It was a long, long injury. I’m happy to be back. Hopefully I can shake the rust off early and contribute a little bit."

A vocal leader, Thornton admits that his biggest contributions likely won’t show up on the score sheet.

"Obviously energy, that’s part of my job," Thornton said of his role on the ice. "I think the vocal part is always there. I think the guys are noticing that I’m ready to be playing. Some of them had to tell me to settle down a little bit."

A native of Oshawa, Ontario, Thornton has recorded 39 goals, 90 points and 933 penalty minutes in 581 games split between the Boston Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and Florida.

OLSEN ON WAIVERS

The Florida Panthers placed defenseman Dylan Olsen on waivers Thursday, a move that comes one day after the team recalled defenseman Alex Petrovic from the American Hockey League.

Olsen, 24, has recorded two goals and eight points in 44 games with Florida this season.

A first-round pick, 28th overall, of Chicago in the 2009 NHL Draft, he has notched five goals and 21 points in 116 career NHL games split between Chicago and Florida.

If Olsen goes unclaimed by 12 p.m. ET Friday,  he will report to the team’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

You can follow Jameson Olive on Twitter @JamesonCoop or email him at JamesonOlive@gmail.com.