As Jonathan Huberdeau looks to elevate his game next season, the Florida Panthers are hopeful that he will become more of a scoring threat.
Since the day he stepped into the league, Jonathan has always been a playmaker rather than a scorer. The “pass first” mentality has always been first nature to the 24-year-old. While having a playmaker is both convenient/important, the Panthers have too many of them. The Cats have lacked a true goal scorer for just over ten years now (Olli Jokinen).
Finding a goal scorer is one of the hardest things to find in the open market. Even when the opportunity is there to go for one, the bill is quite costly (salary). However, there’s an alternative option. The alternative route is to be hopeful that you draft a kid who develops himself into a scorer over time.
This, is where Jonathan Huberdeau comes to mind. Yes, he’s been a natural playmaker all his life. However, he has certainly shown signs in both junior and at the pro-level that indeed he can put the puck in the back of the net. In juniors (St. John Sea Dogs), Huby potted 43 goals in 67 games during their historic Memorial Cup run (champions). During his last season with the Sea Dogs, he also put up 30 goals in 37 games.
Now, let’s fast forward Jonathan’s play to the NHL level. In his rookie year with the Cats (2012-13), Huberdeau scored 14 goals, falling one short of the 15 goal mark. Two seasons later (2014-15), Jonathan hit the 15 goal mark for the first time in his NHL career. A season later (2015-16), he surpassed the 15 goal mark for the first time, and put 20 goals in the back of the net that season. Had Jonny avoided his Achilles tendon injury last season (2016-17), I am 100% sure that he would have exceeded the 20 goal mark.
On the other hand, even the analytics were looking good for Huby in the offensive department. In the 31 games he played in last year, Jonathan finished with a GF60 (Goals For Per 60 Minutes) of 2.85. Secondly, he held a GF% of 51%, which is decent considering the amount of games he dressed in. Lastly, his CF60 (Corsi For Per 60 Minutes) significantly rose to 59.09. Certainly an increase from the prior years (2015-16) figure which was 49.82.
Corsi may not strictly mean “goals”. Although, it does account for all the shots that are taken. In the past, shooting has always been a problem for Huberdeau. Recently, we have seen Jonny shoot the puck more, which results in more goals and scoring chances taking place.
For the Panthers sake, it will be critical for Jonny to not only elevate his entire game, but his offensive game especially. The Cats will be calling on a player like Huby to deliver the goals offensively.
The time is now for young Jonathan to be relied upon upfront, as his role with the team will significantly increase offensively. It will be up to Huberdeau to make any adjustments in his game, that will transform himself into more of a scoring threat.