One of the most exciting times of the year is upon us as we are less than two weeks away from the NHL Entry Draft which takes place beginning Friday June 24th at 6:00 P.M. Eastern time. The Florida Panthers will be drafting in the third position just as they did last season, and we here at the Rat Trick are going to break down some of the possiblities.
Today, we’ll take a look at Jonathan Huberdeau. The St, Jerome, Quebec native has moved up draft boards all season long, thanks in large part to his 105 pt season (43 goals) with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), a 70 point jump from his rookie season. His Sea Dogs win the 2011 Memorial Cup, where he was awarded the Stafford Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the tournament. All of this had led to him being ranked at the third North American skater on the NHL’s Central Scouting final rankings.
He’s 6’1″ but will need to add to his 170 pounds before he is NHL ready. In his draft profile at NHL Central Scouting, Chris Bordeleau had this to say about him:
“He’s the type of player who can change the outcome of a game suddenly and quickly. He’s displayed unbelievably quick hands and an ability to set up and score goals. He definitely has NHL hands and playmaking ability . . . he’s also gritty and does not back down when challenged.”
Hockey’s Future, a site dedicated to hockey prospects, also thinks very highly of him:
“An offensive wizard when the puck is on his stick, Huberdeau is blessed with great hands and the creativity to make things happen on the ice. Equally apt at finding an open player and making pass as he is with sliding through defensive coverage and scoring a goal himself, he’s a dynamic talent with an excellent work ethic. Still needs to add muscle, which will only help him be more effective battling for the puck.”
Huberdeau has been projected as either a center or a left winger, depending on who you listen to. Should he end up as a center (and if he’s drafted by the Panthers) he would fill a gaping hole in Sunrise. A good look at the better teams in the NHL will show you their number one center came from the draft, and in most cases, high up in the draft. Should Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson go 1-2 in the draft, like many expect, the Panthers will have to make a big decision between Gabriel Landeskog and Huberdeau. Do you go with the most NHL ready forward in the draft in Landeskog or do you take the guy who might be a year or two away, but could solve the biggest problem on the club in Huberdeau? Not an easy choice if you’re Dale Tallon.
Here’s some video I posted on the Rat Trick’s Facebook page about a month ago. Give you a pretty good idea of what this young man can do: Jonathan Huberdeau
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