Coming into the 2014-2015 season, there weren’t many people who had high hopes for Jonathan Huberdeau. After a Calder-worthy rookie year, Huberdeau slumped in his sophomore season. This year, after a slower start, Huberdeau picked up the pace and even ended up leading the Panthers in points at the end of the season. Keep reading for more on Florida’s most dynamic left-winger.
From Past Years to Now
Jonathan Huberdeau had 31 points, 14 goals and 17 assists, in 48 games in his rookie season (2012-2013). This was more than enough to earn him the Calder Trophy, which is given to the rookie with the best performance each season. After such an incredible rookie performance in the 2012-2013 season, everybody was wondering what Huberdeau could do when a lockout wasn’t curtailing the season. However, his performance in the 2013-2014 season did not live up to the expectations of a former Calder winner. He scored 9 goals and 19 assists that season, adding up to 28 points in 69 games. Despite playing 21 more games and having more experience in his sophomore season, Huberdeau had three less points in the 2013-2014 season than he did in the 2012-2013 season. After that performance, fans didn’t know what to expect from the young forward. He started off slow, attaining only 9 points in his first 20 games. Of those 9 points, only 2 of them were from goals. “Oh, not this again,” most Panthers fans thought. Thankfully, his play started to pick up after those first 20 games. He began to score more frequently and the goals were beautiful. We started to get a glimpse of the Calder-era Huberdeau.
It wasn’t until February 28, 2015 that we really began to think about how great Huberdeau actually is. Of course, this was the day that Jaromir Jagr played his first game with the Panthers. Neither Huberdeau nor Jagr scored on that day, but it was clear that there was something special happening between them. Huberdeau, Jagr, and Barkov clicked immediately and Huberdeau and Barkov’s performances were at an all-time high. Before Jagr’s arrival, Huberdeau had 33 points in 59 games. Huberdeau played at a point-per-game pace and had 21 points in the last 20 games. This ratio of points per game in the last 20 ended up being one of the highest in the league. Huberdeau ended the season with a career-high 15 goals and 39 assists, which adds up to 54 points in 79 games.
When it comes to 5-on-5 shot attempts (corsi), Jonathan Huberdeau is number one for all forwards on the team and is number three overall. In fact, Huberdeau is toward the top of the list in all categories of the statistics (SAT Close, SAT Tied, SAT Ahead, USAT, USAT Close, etc.). Basically, what this means is, he is not afraid to shoot the puck. As a member of the top-scoring line for the Panthers (and usually the 1st line), it makes sense that Huberdeau is on the ice when the puck goes near or into the net. Many of you may be wondering why a player with only 15 goals has such high SAT numbers. The answer is that Huberdeau still hasn’t really learned to shoot the puck when he gets it. He usually just passes the puck, which is why he has so many assists. Jagr has helped him (and Barkov) with that and I can only assume that he will score much more next year with a little help from the Czech veteran.
Jonathan Huberdeau is 6’1’’ and weighs 188 lbs, which means that he is fairly normally sized for a hockey player. Speed is not a stand-out quality for him, but he can rush down the ice when he needs to. An unexpected aspect of his gameplay that fans began to see at the end of last season and the beginning of this one was the fact that Huberdeau is not afraid to get in a fight if he needs to. In this very teamwork-oriented group, it makes sense that Huberdeau is willing to stand up for his teammates. It does not happen super often but we do occasionally see Huberdeau get into it with some of the larger players. One notable fight occurred last season against Jake Gardiner (video below). This season, Huberdeau was seen joining bigger brawls, but also fought in a few singular battles. This season, Huberdeau found a home with young-gun Aleksander Barkov and veteran Jaromir Jagr. The three immediately clicked and it was clear after testing out many different line combinations that they were just better together than they were apart. Huberdeau still needs to find a way to shoot the puck instead of passing it so often, but he is definitely on the right track.
Overall, Jonathan Huberdeau was a stand out player in the 2014-2015 season. I expect him to continue to impress next season, while playing alongside Jagr and Barkov. Watch out for Jonathan Huberdeau, because he will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with next season.
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