After being moved last season, the Florida Panthers should reinstate forward Jonathan Huberdeau back to their top line.
The move consisted of dropping winger Jonathan Huberdeau to the second line to play with center Vincent Trocheck. This came as a surprise for many fans since Huberdeau had always played with assistant captain Aleksander Barkov.
With Huberdeau on the second line, forward Nick Bjugstad was promoted to the first line with Barkov and Evgeni Dadonov. This change was a blessing in disguise as this was one of the main factors of the big run for the Cats that almost sent them to the postseason. But after a few changes in the offseason, it may be time to move Huberdeau back to line #1.
First off, last season’s primary issue was obviously scoring depth. This is the main reason why the big line adjustment was made. Although, now after a few acquisitions in the offseason, scoring can be distributed evenly even with Huberdeau on the top line.
An example of this can be shown by the summer arrival of scoring winger Mike Hoffman. With Hoffman’s addition, the 28-year-old can play alongside Vincent Trocheck on the second line, allowing Huberdeau to return to the first line with Barkov and Dadonov.
Secondly, as soon as the 2017-18 season began, the first line of Huberdeau, Barkov, and Dadonov just showed pure domination offensively. They displayed unbelievable chemistry as they continued to put pucks in the net. Not only did they excel on the offensive side of the game, but they were clean and tidy defensively too.
A sample of their incredible goal scoring ability comes from a game against the Anaheim Ducks in late October of last season. In the play, Huberdeau starts out with a neutral zone pass to Barkov who enters the offensive zone.
While fighting off the checking defender, Barkov slides a pass right onto the tape of Dadonov, as if he knew he would be there. This play by itself can describe how great these players are together and why they should be together once the new season rolls along:
Lastly, as mentioned before, chemistry was always a big thing with this line last year. Even though Huberdeau created some chemistry with Trocheck on line #2 towards the end of the season, his main man has always been Barkov. If you put those two back together, the chemistry factor will show an effect on the stat sheet.
What this means is that the stats for Huberdeau, Barkov, and Dadonov can only rise as they continue to play together. During last season, Huberdeau finished with 27 goals and 69 points (a point short of the 70 mark).
If he played with the other two first liners for the entire campaign, he could’ve jumped over the 70 point mark and maybe even gone north of 30 goals. While this can apply for all three players, the idea still lies true where if these 3 men play together for a full season, not only will their stats improve tremendously, but so will the overall state of the team.
Even after playing well with Vincent Trocheck on the second line, it would be advised to place Jonathan Huberdeau back on the first line.