Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers has a simple, short-term goal: Be ready when training camp begins.
The 20-year-old center took the ice Monday for the first time since undergoing hip surgery May 14. He said he hopes to be at full strength when the Panthers report to camp next month.
"[You have to] take it slowly. It's a process and I think I am just following it," Huberdeau told the Panthers website. "It's getting better, hopefully I can get back out on the ice soon and I will be ready for training camp."
Huberdeau, the third pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, is the first Panthers player to be named as the NHL's top rookie. He shared the scoring lead among first-year players with Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers and set a pair of franchise records. But Huberdeau is taking nothing for granted despite his superb first season.
"It doesn't matter that I have the Calder Trophy," Huberdeau said. "My surgery threw me down a little bit and I am just trying to train harder and harder."
Though Huberdeau said he doesn't have specific goals for his second season, he does concede that much of his focus is on becoming a better two-way player; he finished with a minus-15 rating.
"I want to help the team offensively and defensively," Huberdeau said. "I just want to be a little bit more of a leader this year, since it is my second year."
Huberdeau spent an additional season in junior hockey with the Saint John's Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after being drafted. He adapted very well to the NHL; his performance was one of the few bright spots in a season that saw the Panthers go from winning a division title in 2011-12 to missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Though his transition to the NHL was "kind of weird with the lockout and everything" due to the late start to the season, Huberdeau said he got a lot of help from veteran Panthers in making the move from junior hockey to the pros.
"My teammates helped me a lot and I think it was a difficult season for us with all the injuries," Huberdeau said. "I think I personally learned a lot and I am ready for this year."