Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau Can Hit 100 Points Next Season

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 5: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers skates with the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the BB&T Center on January 5, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 5: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers skates with the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the BB&T Center on January 5, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After a career-high season that went under the radar in the NHL, Jonathan Huberdeau looks set to hit triple digits in points for the first time in his career.

Jonathan Huberdeau hit career highs in almost every stat in 2018-19, in goals (30), assists (62), points (92), power-play goals (11), power-play assists (23), power-play points (34), game-winning goals (5), and shooting percentage (13.3%).

The 26-year-old French Canadian finished tied with Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point at 12th in the entire league this season with 92 points (30 goals & 62 assists).

One of the reasons for his outbreak was his influence on the power play. Previously, Huberdeau’s career-high points on the power play were 19, as the Florida Panthers really lacked a key identity in past seasons on the man advantage.

Recently, with the emergence of Huberdeau’s 34 points (11 goals & 23 assists) on the man advantage, Florida’s power-play rose to one of the best special teams units in the league.

One of the reasons is that Huberdeau is so efficient at creating space for himself, and giving to his teammates. This power-play goal against the New York Rangers back in October shows how much of a focal point he can be.

Mika Zibanejad (#93 in blue) gives Huberdeau plenty of space to operate on the wing, which means that there are plenty of passing lanes for Huberdeau to exploit.

With the Rangers bunched in, Huberdeau feeds Keith Yandle at the point, but the shot gets saved by New York’s Alexandar Georgiev. On the ensuing rebound, Vincent Trocheck’s shot trickles wide of the net.

The first man to notice this is Huberdeau, who beats Mats Zuccarello to the puck behind the net. He shuffles it back to the right side for Trocheck, who buries the next chance to give Florida the lead.

His 62 assists, a team-high last season, is a testament to how good of a playmaker he really is while on the ice. He beat out top wingers such as Artemi Panarin, Mikko Rantanen, and Phil Kessel last season, with just two left-wingers getting more assists than Huberdeau last campaign.

Another part of the reason for Huberdeau’s breakout season had to have been the quality of the line that he played on. On paper, this was the best two teammates Huberdeau had played with before, and he didn’t wast the opportunity.

It was also a career year for center Aleksander Barkov the last term, with the 23-year-old recording 96 points (35 goals & 61 assists) across 82 games.

The two have played next to each other for virtually Barkov’s entire five-year career, and their chemistry is really emerging as one of the best in the league.

Fantastic team chemistry like this shows exactly how Huberdeau can get 100 points next season playing with somebody like Barkov.

One of the more undervalued parts about Huberdeau is his movement off the puck. It was on display in the video from earlier this article, and it shows right now. Huberdeau is excellent at making intelligent movements to receive stretch passes from players like Yandle and Barkov.

While this isn’t exactly a stretch pass, it’s on display that Huberdeau knows exactly when to move to get to the front of the net. After getting knocked down, Evgenii Dadonov’s cross-ice pass to Barkov catches three Senators players watching the puck, and Huberdeau knows he has a step on all of them.

As Barkov carries in, only one Ottawa player, Christian Wolanin, is on the right side of the ice, with two Panthers players to cover.

With the slot wide open, Huberdeau crashes the net, Barkov picks him out, and with a nifty finish, doubles Florida’s lead.

Even if the slot wasn’t this open, Barkov knows what Huberdeau wants to do in these situations, and the pass gave him exactly the weight it needed to glide in and deke before putting the puck home.

Now, as Huberdeau enters his eighth season, he is in the prime of his career. If he’s ever going to set career-high numbers again, it has to come next season.

At 26 years of age, Huberdeau has around 3-4 more seasons until his game begins to regress, so it’s important for this season to be the best that he’s had.

Apart from the 2016-17 season in which he missed 51 games with a knee injury, Huberdeau has steadily improved with each and every passing season. All he needs for 100 points is just eight more points next season, and I’m very confident he can hit that mark.

Next. Florida Need to Retire Roberto Luongo’s Jersey. dark

With Barkov and Dadonov next to him, and a top power-play still around, the rest of the league should watch out for a new Johnny Hockey next season.