Jonathan Huberdeau is the most underrated player in the NHL
Say what you want about the Florida Panthers. Make your attendance jokes and say there’s no market for hockey in South Florida.
But no Jonathan Huberdeau slander should ever be tolerated.
Just last night, Huberdeau had a five-point game in the Panthers’ 6-5 OT loss to the Nashville Predators. He scored a hat trick and had two assists, one on Aaron Ekblad’s goal and one on Aleksander Barkov’s goal.
With the first hat trick of his career, Huberdeau became just the sixth player in Panthers history to record at least five points in a game. Olli Jokinen has the record with six points on March 17, 2007.
Huberdeau now has a team-high 12 points (four goals, eight assists) through the first seven games of the season.
Huberdeau grew up in Quebec and played in the QMJHL for the Saint John Sea Dogs. While playing for them, he scored 43 goals and 62 assists in 67 games. He was the leading scorer among 16-year-olds in the league for the 2009–10 season.
Huberdeau was nominated for three QMJHL awards after his stellar season: the Michel Brière Memorial Trophy for Most Valuable Player, the Mike Bossy Trophy as top professional prospect, and the Paul Dumont Trophy for personality of the year. He did not win any of the awards. Sean Couturier was named MVP and top prospect, while Louis Leblanc got the award for personality of the year. Just further proof he has been underrated since the beginning of his career.
He ended up being drafted third overall by the Panthers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
He scored his first NHL goal on his second shift and on the very first shot of his NHL career. The 27-year-old now has 449 career points in 543 games played.
Huby by the numbers
Huberdeau was drafted among some other well-known faces such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier, and Mika Zibanejad, just to name a few.
Nugent-Hopkins has played in 73 more games and has just 4 more points than Huberdeau: 453 in 616 games.
Landeskog has 468 points in 644 games played. That’s only 19 more points than Huberdeau while playing 101 more games than him.
Couturier has played in 649 games and has 403 points. That’s 106 more games than Huberdeau and 46 fewer points than him.
Zibanejad has played in 15 more games than Huberdeau and has 62 fewer points: 387 in 558 games.
These are just comparisons to some of the best names in Huberdeau’s draft class. Huberdeau has been outshined by these players simply because they play for “better teams” in “better markets.”
Huberdeau has made only one NHL All-Star Game. He also won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2012-2013 for rookie of the year. While All-Star games and awards don’t mean anything, it would be nice to see Huberdeau get more recognition and appreciation throughout the league.
Here’s a look at his current stat card, courtesy of http://www.hockeystatcards.com
He is currently within the top five for the league’s single-game performance stats.
We always hate to see elite players stuck on bad teams, and what’s even worse, is when they never go on to win a championship. I wholeheartedly believe if Huberdeau did not play for the Panthers, he would come up in more conversations about who’s the best. He already has the most points in Panthers franchise history and he isn’t even 30-years-old.
The team’s never-ending sequence of disappointing seasons and eliminations has dulled Huberdeau’s chances of shining past the regular season. Since he joined the team in 2012-13, the Panthers have missed the playoffs six out of eight times.
The Panthers have had a great start to the season this year, however, it’s more than likely due to the new division setup. They have played phenomenally so far against the struggling Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
Could this be the year they finally get to prove themselves and show what great talent they have with Huberdeau? Will he be the standout star that is the key to bringing the Stanley Cup to South Florida?
Keep an eye on him. Only time will tell.
– Caylee Allard
Follow me on Twitter: @2kaRask
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