Florida Panthers: Huberdeau Emerged as a Top Forward in 2018-19

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 1: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Washington Capitals at the BB&T Center on April 1, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 1: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Washington Capitals at the BB&T Center on April 1, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Jonathan Huberdeau was nothing short of fantastic this past season, emerging as one of the top players in the NHL.

The French-Canadian forward crushed his previous point tallies in 2018-19, with 92 points (30 goals, 62 assists) in 82 games. His previous high was 69 points across 82 games, an increase of 23 points from last season.

Jonathan Huberdeau set career highs in goals (30), assists (62), points (92), power-play goals (11), power-play points (34), and shooting percentage (13.3%) in 2018-19.

The former third overall pick and Calder Trophy winner finished tied for 12th this season in points in the NHL, surpassing superstars such as Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, and Artemi Panarin.

He also improved in a lot of advanced stats metrics. He created about 0.40 goals per game this season, a clear career high from his repeated 0.31 in the last two seasons. His offensive point shares also skyrocketed from 5.4 to 7.8, his highest by a long shot.

Both of these stats were second on the team, with the 25-year old only behind Aleksander Barkov, who created 0.43 goals per game and had an offensive point shares of 7.9. Thankfully for Huberdeau, it’s a good thing the two were reunited on the same line this season.

Huberdeau’s dynamic partnership with Florida Panthers’ Captain Aleksander Barkov was a true catalyst of Florida’s prominent attack this season.

The two had previously bounced around playing at the same time, with Huberdeau commonly being used with Vincent Trocheck last season on the second line.

After being separated for most of November, the Barkov-Huberdeau connection came back to life at the end of the month.

Down 2-1 at home against the Buffalo Sabres, Bob Boughner rolled the dice, moving Huberdeau away from Jared McCann and Mike Hoffman, putting him back with Barkov and Evgeni Dadonov.

The switch worked, with Huberdeau getting primary assists on both Dadonov’s tying goal, as well as Barkov’s game-winner.

From there on in, that top line was untouchable. The two combined for 188 points this year, with Barkov’s 96 points also set a massive career high.

The pair were one of only two linemates to both be in the top 15 in points across the NHL this season, with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos being the only others.

The two always know where each other are, and what they need to create scoring opportunities. This goal against Ottawa from March was relatively simple, but it was all made by Huberdeau’s pass out from the right side of the ice to Barkov.

Once the pass is made, the attention of all of the Senator players directs straight to Barkov, which allows Huberdeau to make a darting move towards goal.

He gets past Ottawa’s Christian Wolanin before receiving Barkov’s pinpoint pass and rounds goaltender Anders Nilsson for the easy goal.

The last full month of the season was when Huberdeau truly put himself in the conversation of some of the best in hockey, with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) across the final 16 games of the regular season, including a goal-per-game rate of 7 goals in his last 7 games.

He had some incredible games across this stretch, including three multi-goal games against Boston, Toronto, and Ottawa (all on the road), and two three-assist games against Minnesota and Arizona.

His influence on the power play didn’t go unnoticed this year. The left winger had 34 power-play points this season, with 11 goals and 23 assists on the man advantage.

Both Huberdeau and Keith Yandle were the two biggest influencers on moving the puck while on the power play, whilst Aleksander Barkov focused on moving in and around the crease, and two wingers would wait for setups to shoot or move inside.

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His involvement on this Mike Hoffman power-play goal against Arizona shows how much confidence the Panthers had in Huberdeau to contribute this season.

Playing with four forwards and one defenseman, Huberdeau takes the other point role and is able to spot Hoffman with separation on the right side.

Huby slides it over and Hoffman converted with Coyotes’ goaltender Darcy Kuemper unable to react to the quick pass.

With an all-star caliber season, the future seems very bright for Jonathan Huberdeau. It’s hard to remember that Huberdeau is still only 25 years of age, but will be entering his eighth NHL season in October.

Huberdeau is already awaiting October, anticipating his work with new Panthers Head Coach, Joel Quenneville. Jonathan has already praised Quenneville as a “winning coach” and hopes that this is “the last coaching change” for the foreseeable future.

Quenneville has always done well with wingers before, getting Stanley Cup-caliber seasons out of Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Next. Highlighting Aleksander Barkov’s Career Year. dark

If Coach Q can mold Huberdeau into a consistent version of his play during the 2018-19 season, then Huberdeau might rise above and beyond his potential.