Though the Florida Panthers have struggled mightily at times in their first five games of the young 2013 NHL season, there is a bright side to this: the team will be keeping Jonathan Huberdeau in the lineup.
Teams need to decide what to do with players who are still young enough to play in junior hockey leagues after five games. They can either send the young guys back for another year of conditioning, thereby delaying the start of their entry-level contracts for a year, or go ahead and keep them now. The Montreal Canadiens decided to keep two young talents on board today.
Huberdeau has played the limit of five games so far with the Panthers. He’s already put up a goal and two assists in that time. That first goal, by the way, was scored on his second shift and his absolute first-ever shot.
He’s coming off four years spent in the QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs–during that tenure, he and the Sea Dogs won the 2011 Memorial Cup, often considered the hardest trophy to win in sports because there are only so many years of age eligibility. Huberdeau was the MVP of the tournament that year.
His production absolutely rocketed between his first and second years of playing in the Q. A jump from 35 points in a season to 105 is absolutely stratospheric. That came in the 2010-11 season, before the Memorial Cup run and before he was picked third overall by Florida at the draft.
Sure, he cooled down a little after all that excitement, putting up 72 points the next season, followed by 45 points in the 2012-13 season before the NHL unlocked the doors. But those totals are still pretty darn good and should give Panthers fans some hope for the future.