Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau Should Be one of the First All-Stars Named

For someone tied for third in the league in assists, has it felt like Jonathan Huberdeau hasn’t been talked about as much by the rest of the NHL?

Since his “sophomore slump” in 2013, Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau has consistently grown with each passing term. Last season, Huberdeau smashed his career totals, hitting the 30-goal and 60-assist mark for the first time, finishing with 92 points in 82 games. This season, he’s on pace to go even higher.

Huberdeau’s 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) so far sets another career-high, the most amount of points in the first 35 games. To think that just five years ago Huberdeau finished the whole season with 54 points shows the emergence of a true superstar.

His most recent stretch, in which the Panthers have won their last three games, has been Huberdeau’s best hockey of the season. In this span, the Florida Panthers have scored 17 goals, with Huberdeau involved in 10 of those. To think he’s doing that playing with two players that combined for just nine goals before this week.

No discredit to Noel Acciari or Vincent Trocheck, the two weren’t exactly lighting the lamp in the first two months of the season. Acciari, a usual fourth-liner, never had a multi-goal game in his entire career. Trocheck was having a concerningly poor season, with just 15 points going into the win streak.

A lot of people questioned whether splitting Jonathan Huberdeau and captain Aleksander Barkov was the right decision by Joel Quenneville. The Panthers had done this before, but with both getting to the 90-point plateau last season, it didn’t seem like the right move at the time.

Huberdeau would have his work cut out for him playing next to Trocheck and Acciari, but he has gone beyond any expectations this line has been. Trocheck has three points in his last three games, Huberdeau has 10 points in that same time, and Noel Acciari recorded both his first multi-goal game and his first two hat tricks.

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With most media raving about Acciari’s stunning run, which will likely land him NHL’s First Star of the Week, nobody is talking about the man setting him up. For all it’s worth, it isn’t crazy to claim Huberdeau could take Second Star of the Week.

Huberdeau’s four-assist masterstroke against Ottawa provided the spark that the Panthers desperately needed, seeing that Florida had just four goals in their last three games prior. His two goals have helped the power play gain confidence, and now the Panthers are back to third in the Atlantic, just one point behind Toronto with two games in hand.

After this stretch, Huberdeau now stands tied for third in the NHL in assists and eighth in the NHL in points. Yet, nobody seems to want to talk about his success.

For certain, Huberdeau needs to go to the All-Star Game, but he needs to be one of the first All-Stars listed. If the Cats were in the Metropolitan Division, Huberdeau would be leading the entire division in points.

Unfortunately for Huberdeau, the Atlantic’s premier forwards have been nothing short of incredible this year. Boston’s David Pastrnak leads the league in goals while Brad Marchand sits fourth in the league in points, while Buffalo captain Jack Eichel already has 50 points, on pace to obliterate his career-highs.

That still hasn’t stopped the 26-year-old from being one of the top talents in the division, outscoring other superstars like Hart winner Nikita Kucherov, Toronto sniper Auston Matthews, and teammate Aleksander Barkov. With so few spots available, especially with Ottawa and Detroit guaranteed at least one All-Star, it will be interesting to see who gets left out.

Next: Panthers Dominate 2nd, Pace Past Dallas 7-4

Huberdeau should not have to worry about being left out on the January trip to St. Louis for the All-Star festivities. His season has simply been just too good to be snubbed, even with the talents of the other stars in the Atlantic.

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