Florida Panthers: significance of a healthy Jonathan Huberdeau

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 14: Aleksander Barkov
SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 14: Aleksander Barkov /

Entering the 2017-18 season, the Florida Panthers will ultimately have a healthy Jonathan Huberdeau leading the new look Cats to hopeful success.

Huberdeau was a vital part of the Florida Panthers success in the 2015-16 season, leading the overachieving club to a franchise best 103 points and a division title. The incredibly talented winger registered an astounding 20G, 39A, and 59 points in 76 games played that year.

In result, the Panthers rewarded Huby’s spectacular year with a deserving contract extension: 6 years with 5.9 million per year. Jonathan is easily a 50+ point player on a yearly basis, but a serious injury in a preseason game last year prevented Huby from hitting that mark.

Huberdeau, a pivotal piece to the Panthers roster, was forced to miss a total of 51 games due to a horrendous leg injury sidelining him for more than half of the season. He proved to be irreplaceable, as his presence was greatly missed on the team throughout the course of the Panthers rollercoaster season.

The team struggled tremendously without Huby in the lineup, as the team’s offensive numbers took a drastic decline from a year ago. The power play was essentially worthless as the Cats rarely cashed in on the man advantage (ranked an abysmal 23rd in the league).

Once Huberdeau returned from his gruesome injury, he propelled the Cats up the standings for a brief period of time. In 31 games, Huby amassed an impressive 10 goals, 16 assists, and 26 points. He not only improved the team’s performance since returning, but he also excelled and experienced greater success as he provided the Panthers with a lethal scoring threat.

He was extremely consistent as he was playing at a point per game pace upon his return to the club. Huberdeau not only elevated his game, but he positively impacted the forward group around him as counterparts Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Marchessault saw their numbers increase as well.

Huby is a core piece on this team and will continue to be one of the faces of this franchise for many years to come. The 24-year-old contributes in a plethora of ways, as he is a weapon in shootouts, power play, and even strength play. Jonathan will experience a seamless transition as he enters the 2017-18 fully healthy and with younger, quicker line mate in Evgeny Dadonov on the opposite wing.

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Jonathan must find a way to remain healthy if the Cats want to become a competitive and potential playoff team. His health is a major question mark as he’s missed a total of 57 games over the past two seasons.

His abilities are certainly game-changing, as he impacts the outcome of games with his incredible vision, precise passing, and outstanding hand-eye coordination. Huberdeau is a star in the making as opposing coaches must “game plan” for how to defend the extraordinary chemistry between Huby and Barky.

Jonathan is a player to monitor heading into next season, as he’ll hope to lead the offensively challenged Panthers to a resurgent season under newly signed head coach Bob Boughner .