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Huberdeau joins top draft prospects for clinic

by Adam Kimelman

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- It's been four years, but Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau vividly remembers the run-up to the 2011 NHL Draft, when he was the third pick.

So when he got a call asking if he'd like to take part in a youth clinic with some of the top prospects for the 2015 draft Thursday at Florida Panthers IceDen, he didn't hesitate to grab his skates.

"I'm glad they asked me to come," Huberdeau said. "It was a pleasure to come here.

"It was an exciting moment [being drafted]. I'm glad I can be there with them too. It's exciting. I'm going back four years ago and it's like same as this."

Huberdeau was on the ice with Erie centers Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome, Boston University center Jack Eichel, Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin, Kingston left wing Lawson Crouse and London center Mitchell Marner. They're all ranked in the top six by NHL Central Scouting in its final ranking of North American skates for the 2015 draft.

The first round of the draft is Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports); rounds 2-7 are Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports).

"I've watched highlights," Huberdeau said. "McDavid was on the Internet a lot; every goal he scored was a big highlight on TV. I know some of the guys. Eichel of course. ... I was in the dressing room with them, talked to them a little bit, if they had a good season. I know they're busy guys. It's a tough week; a lot of media. You're excited for the draft too. I let them live there by themselves."

Huberdeau said he didn't have much advice to offer for the prospects.

"Just enjoy the moment when you're there," he said. "You don't know if you're going to go first, or in the top five or six picks. It's going to be ... I'm sure they're excited. Just take the time to really enjoy it because it only happens once in a lifetime."

Huberdeau had a career-best 15 goals and 54 points for the Panthers last season. He has 38 goals and 113 points in 196 NHL games.

He said it's hard to remember a lot from his draft moment in 2011 at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.

"I don't really remember much that night," Huberdeau said. "I think I was pretty nervous. You're excited. You want to go to sleep [the night before] because you're excited to wake up the next day."

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