However, the Panthers clearly did not blow their third overall pick back in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft when they took young Jonathan Huberdeau. Despite the loss last night, Huberdeau lit the lamp twice, bringing his season total to five. He has eight total points on the short season and is only averaging 15:34 of ice time per contest.
While the solid stat line is impressive, it hasn’t been the only reason that Huberdeau has been looking like the real deal for the Panthers.
For a 19-year old kid, Huberdeau has the intelligence and maturity of a grizzled veteran. He has a tremendous hockey I.Q., always knowing where to be when out on the ice. Also, if for whatever reason you ever choose watch a Panthers game (kidding), take a look at Huberdeau when the puck is on his stick. He is a wizard, possessing great hands and the ability to find the open player at any moment.
Occasionally playing with a veteran such as Alexei Kovalev should certainly help the young kid develop as a pro. Kovalev, 39, realizes tremendous, young talent when he sees it.
“You can tell he’s a talented kid,” Kovalev said. “He’s really patient with the puck. He can hold onto it. Pretty strong on his feet, and it’s been really fun to play with a player of that type. You know if you give it to him, you’ll get the puck back. You’re not worried about helping him out. He’s strong enough to make the plays. That makes the job easier.”
Pretty high praise from a guy with over 1,000 career points, no?
The bottom line is that Florida likely will not be contending for a Stanley Cup anytime soon. However, with young Jonathan Huberdeau continuing to get better, expect him to be a candidate for the Calder Trophy when it’s all said and done.