The third pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, Huberdeau has a goal and two assists in four games. He had all his points on opening night and has been held off the score sheet since then. However, he's third on the team with 13 shots on goal and is averaging 15:49 of ice time per game.
Huberdeau had an outstanding preseason with the Panthers in September 2011, but the team sent him back to Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for another season of development. With another half-season of junior hockey plus a solid turn at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, the Panthers are reaping the reward for that decision.
"With Jonathan, the difference between an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old is huge," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen told the Miami Herald. "You see a difference in maturity, and he had that extra year to develop as a person and a player. He wasn't part of that important first step of us making the playoffs, but he's going to be with us for a long, long time."
The Panthers had before their sixth game, Tuesday at the Tampa Bay Lightning, to make a decision. Prior to Huberdeau playing in his sixth game, the team again could have sent him back to his junior team, delaying the start of his contract. Once he plays his sixth game, his contract officially stars. He still can be sent back to his junior team after that, but it would waste the first season of his deal.