Its New Years Resolution time and that means everybody is going to “start going to the gym regularly,” and “stop eating so many fatty foods” and “start doing one random act of kindness a day” etc. etc. etc. You probably have one obnoxious friend who says, “I don’t make new years resolutions because I try to improve myself every day of the year”. If your resolution is to be the “braveheart of creativity,” you may be Kanye West and if your resolution is to make the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, your probably every hockey team in the NHL, except maybe the Sabres.
Here are some resolutions that would go along way in making 2014 much sweeter for the Florida Panthers.
In 2014…..I will make the jump.
Will it happen?
“The Jump” is a vague way of describing the improvements a young player makes as they progress through their career. For each player, those improvements are incremental and happen everyday in tiny unquantifiable ways. For those of us who watch the games, we cannot distinguish each tiny improvement but after a while we will start to suddenly notice the sum of the many advancements as they manifest themselves on the ice. For us, the changes are almost instant. One day it seems like a switched is turned and a guy just seems to get it.
The Panthers have a lot of young guys with unknown levels of potential. When I watch the present day version of a lot of these guys I think to myself, “Is this their peak or is there another chapter to their game?” Some guys will make a few jumps until they reach all-star levels while others will tease big jumps but never actually improving past a certain threshold.
So who is going to make the jump in 2014? Jonathan Huberdeau seems like a prime candidate, he is a guy many expected to see a jump from in the first part of this season but while he has played well, it appears that there is more to his game that we have yet to see. Erik Gudbranson already made a bit of a jump and it will be interesting to see how high he can go. The Barkov’s, Bjugstad’s, Petrovic’s of the world appear to have many jumps in their future while guys like Matthias and Kulikov may already be who they will become.
The beauty is we don’t know. That is what makes player development so exciting. There is nothing like seeing a young player pick his game up to a higher level and then sustain that high level of play. In 2014 some players will make the jump while some will not. My resolution for 2014 is to sit back and enjoy the ride.