Florida Panthers: Huberdeau and Barkov have been playing amongst the league’s best

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 3: Jonathan Huberdeau
SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 3: Jonathan Huberdeau /

The Florida Panthers have struggled mightily over the course of the season, but that hasn’t stopped superstars Huberdeau and Barkov from playing amongst the league’s best.

Both Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov are each having incredible season’s so far. The two have easily been the driving force of this weak offensive side. Despite the lack of depth that the Panthers hold upfront, Huberdeau and Barkov have still managed to produce at an elite level rate.

Starting with Huberdeau, the star winger has come back even stronger from his Achilles tendon injury than ever before. The 24-year-old is off to one of his best career starts, recording a strong slash line of 14G, 23A, and totaling for 37 points in 39 games played.

Jonathan faced a point drought over the period of four games, from the time of December 12th – 19th. Since then, his production has been on fire, recording 5 goals in his last five games. While his point drought seemed concerning to some, it was only a matter of time until Huberdeau snapped out of it.

Huby also holds a decent CF% figure of 52.798%, while also doing well in other categories like P/60 (2.38) (Points Per 60 Minutes), P1/60 (1.65) (Primary Points Per 60 Minutes), GF% (54.72%) (Goals For Percentage), and finally, xGF% (50.36%) (Expected Goals For Percentage).

Johnny’s shooting percentage (S%) has also risen over the past couple of seasons. In 2015-16, his (S%) was 11.5%, and in 2016-17, it was 11.6%. This year however, his figure has risen to 13.5%, marking the highest in his career.

Although, it’s worth noting why his shooting percentage went up. A couple of factors could be that he’s shooting more (which he is), and secondly, that he’s putting more pucks on net. But the main reason why I believe his shooting percentage went up is because he’s scoring at a higher rate than ever before.

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Part of the reason why Huberdeau is successful analytically is because of his budding superstar partner, Aleksander Barkov. Barkov, like Huberdeau, has also been playing among the league’s best this season, and has enjoyed a healthy year.

In 38 games played, the 22-year-old has tallied 11G, 23A, and 34 points all together. He currently leads the league for most shorthanded goals, with four by his name. Barkov has been called upon to lead the Panthers offensively, averaging 22:29 in ice time, while also receiving playing time on both the power play and penalty kill.

Similar to Huberdeau, Aleksander also holds a decent CF% figure of 51.96%, while also finding success in other categories like P/60 (1.85) (Points Per 60 Minutes), P1/60 (1.03) (Primary Points Per 60 Minutes), GF% (52%) (Goals For Percentage), and finally, Rel GF% (6.64%) (Relative Goals For Percentage).

Barkov’s numbers aren’t as pretty or high as Huberdeau’s, but, what Barky does away from the puck, like his elite level two-way game, is something that no one on the Panthers’ possess, as well as very few in the NHL.

Head coach Bob Boughner has relied upon the two to lead this young but thin offensive group. It hasn’t always been easy for the two stars, but they’ve both managed to find ways to feed of each other and produce.

The duo have welcomed both Dadonov and Bjugstad on the top line for periods of time, and have both managed to succeed with Huberdeau and Barkov by their sides. At the beginning of the year, Dadonov was placed on the top line with Huby and Barky, and boy did they every kill it offensively!

After sustaining a shoulder injury which was going to sideline Evgeni for six weeks, the Panthers needed to call upon another forward to fill the right-wing spot on the top line. For some shifts, it was Vinnie Trocheck, but it was Nick Bjugstad who got the nod, and who ultimately found his footing.

Next: Best moments from 2017 in Pantherland

Nick Bjugstad stepped up to the plate and displayed his former play. It’s been a while since Bjugstad used his ever so big body presence in front of goal, crashing the net and causing havoc in front.

Big Nick has found a home on the top line, and has even managed to retain his spot when Dadonov returned from his injury (a little over two weeks early).

Overall, no matter who they play with, or the limitations that may surround them, both Barkov and Huberdeau have managed to produce around an elite level pace, while stacking up amongst the league’s best.