To say that Jonathan Huberdeau’s sophomore season hasn’t gone to plan would be a vast understatement. After winning the Calder Trophy last season as the league’s top rookie, the Florida Panthers hoped that their young player could take the next step in his first full season.
Huberdeau was able to kill two birds with one stone last night, returning to the lineup after missing 11-games as well as scoring his first goal in 19-games. That means that for the first time in 30-games Huberdeau appeared in the goal column in a Panthers game.
Since my time here at The Rat Trick, I have watched Huberdeau closely and while he has struggled to put up points it hasn’t been from lack of chances. He has had his share of opportunities to put the puck in the net, hard luck and unfortunate bounces haunted him all season.
I had said watching him play, that all he needed was just one lucky goal, one ugly goal or just a favorable bounce and he could save the season.
Unfortunately it came in the third to last game, as no matter how you slice it – his goal was a bit fluky. He showed great speed to get around the defender but when he shot the puck he was off balance and didn’t get much on the shot. All though it did work out for the best as Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltender Steve Mason wasn’t expecting a ‘changeup’ and was nowhere near ready to make the save.
After scoring 31-points (14 G, 17 A) in the lockout shortened 48-game schedule, Huberdeau would need three points in the last two games in order to tie it. Doing so would have taken him 69-games to reach what it only took him 48-games last year.
But with so many young players getting an opportunity this late in the season, spots on the team’s top lines are quickly thinning. Even with him being the third overall pick in his draft year, he is going to have to earn top minutes and using this goal to finish the last two games strong would be a big step in the right direction.