For the Florida Panthers, forward Jonathan Huberdeau was certainly one of their best players, if not, their best player this past season.
With the 2019-20 season officially labeled as complete, the Florida Panthers turn their attention over to the playoffs, in which they will compete against the New York Islanders in a best-of-five play-in series. But before we turn our complete attention over to the return of hockey, let’s keep our eyes focused on one of Florida’s top forwards: Jonathan Huberdeau.
Without any doubt, Huberdeau was, yet again, one of Florida’s top players this past season. You could even make the argument (statistically speaking) that he was the Panthers’ best player, as well. Personally, I lean heavily towards the latter, but even if you sit on the fence, there’s no denying that the 27-year-old put in another elite season.
In 69 games played, the Quebec native recorded 23G, 55A, for 78 total points – good for a team lead in points. Had the season not been cut short due to the Coronavirus, Huberdeau would’ve had the opportunity to claim another 90-point campaign – a feat I think he would’ve achieved.
Regardless, the most important thing surrounding Huberdeau is that he demonstrated another solid year after breaking his career-high last season with 92 points. This season, he may not have hit that figure, but he did experience something that he didn’t have the opportunity to last year.
For the first time in his career, he was nominated to the NHL’s All-Star Game, representing the Atlantic Division along with the Panthers at the skills competition. In the past, he’s always been a close second or third in nominations on the team, but after starting the season off red-hot, there was just no way of taking it away from him this time around.
Just as importantly, he and his partner in crime, Aleksander Barkov, continued terrorizing opponents’ defenses, leading the way as one of the league’s best duos. The two on a line certainly experienced spells of dryness – where goals were hard to come by – but even when Huberdeau was placed on Trocheck’s wing, he found a way to make it work. Likewise can be said when Trocheck was shipped out and Erik Haula was brought in to center the second line.
Huberdeau’s versatility in terms of playing with different players and owning several parts of the ice is what makes him one of the most dominant players in the NHL. If the Panthers are going to have any chance of advancing past the qualifying round, then Huberdeau is going to have to be lights out offensively, like we saw during the first half of the season.
Despite a shortened season, Huberdeau was still able to make the most of it on a bubble team. With his club’s focus now on the upcoming qualifying round, it will be up to guys like him to get the Cats into the first round.