With an unexpected 7-4 upset by the Shawinigan Cataractes over the Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday night, Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau likely saw his junior career come to and end.
After leading his Saint John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup Victory last season, 19-year old, Huberdeau once again saw his team make it all the way to the Semi Finals before a disappointing loss last night.
The Sea Dogs captain, Huberdeau ranked third in the tournament for overall points, and tied for first in goals, as he notched 5 goals, and 2 assists in 4 games.
This may be Huberdeau’s last season in the QMJHL as he will be strongly contesting for a spot on the Florida Panthers lineup. In September, during pre-season play, Huberdeau scored 3 goals and an assists in 5 games to lead the Cats in scoring. But, the team felt he needed one more season in junior, and sent him back to the Sea Dogs on October 3rd.
The 6-foot-1, 171 poing Center from Saint-Jerome, Quebec made good of his opportunity in the QMJHL this season as he scored 30 goals and 72 points in just 37 games. He was on track to top last seasons numbers (43 goals, 105 pots in 67 games), but a foot injury saw him sit out half of the season, returning in time to play for team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. Huberdeau finished 9th in the tournament for scoring with 1 goal and 8 assists in 6 games.
This offseason will be key for Huberdeau as he now has to train hard to crack the Florida Panthers roster this season. The Cats – who selected him 3rd overall last season in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft – hope he can carry his scoring touch into the NHL as the team lost many games this season when they were unable to capitalize on scoring chances – same with the playoffs.
No doubt the learning experience and point production in another great junior season will strongly help Huberdeau in his development. Odds are he will crack the roster and be a key factor in the Panthers lineup heading into next season as he will be looked upon to add a fresh new look again this season, and just may the spark the Cats need to make it that much deeper in the playoffs in their quest for their first Stanley Cup.
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