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2018-19 Season Rewind: Jonathan Huberdeau

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2018-19 Season Rewind: Huberdeau

2018-19 Season Rewind: Jonathan Huberdeau

Goals from Jonathan Huberdeau in the 2018-19 Season

  • 05:40 •

Jonathan Huberdeau can no longer simply be referred to as a playmaker.

Already known for his ability to dish the puck, the 25-year-old's all-around offensive game really erupted during this past season in which he broke out to the tune of a career-high 30 goals and 92 points. In addition to his goal total, his whopping 62 assists also set a new franchise record.

A key cog on the Florida Panthers second-ranked power play, he also shined on the man advantage, where he ranked third on the team with a career-best 11 goals and 34 points.

"My game went up this year, especially in the second half," Huberdeau said after cleaning out his locker at BB&T Center on April 8. "I just want to be more consistent out there. That's what I'm going to work on for next year and be good every game."

As Huberdeau alluded to, the second half of the season was where his game really took off.

From Feb. 17 until the final buzzer sounded on Game 82, the former third-overall pick racked up the second-most points in the NHL -- second to only teammate Aleksander Barkov -- registering 40 points in 26 games. In that span, he also found the back of the net a league-high 17 times.

With Barkov and Huberdeau lifting each other to new heights on the club's top line, Huberdeau's 92 points placed him behind only Barkov's franchise-record 96 on the team, giving the franchise its first pair of 90-point players ever in the same season. Florida also stood as one of just three teams in the league this season with multiple 90-point players, joining Edmonton and Tampa.

"We're just working hard and trying to keep things simple out there," Huberdeau said of his chemistry with Barkov in March. "We're having fun. You want to have fun out there, and that's what we've been doing lately. The points are coming, obviously. It's not the season that we wanted to have as a team, but we're trying to do well offensively whenever we're out there."

Now, for those of you that want to believe that Huberdeau's scoring surge was due to only his time spent with Barkov, you'd only be partially correct. In looking at some advanced statistics from NaturalStatTrick.com, both players actually benefitted greatly from playing with each other.

When they were separated this season, the duo was on the ice for a combined 42 goals for and 59 goals against at 5-on-5 play. But when they were together, they were on for 43 goals for and 31 against. Additionally, Barkov's CF% went from 45.90 to 50.91 while playing with Huberdeau.

Overall, Huberdeau's 51.11 CF% at 5-on-5 ranked third among Florida's forwards.

"We're both pretty similar players," Barkov said of Huberdeau. "We like to pass the puck and we like to play with the puck. [Evgenii Dadonov] is the same way. We're playing as three guys, passing the puck around, skating around and trying to have fun. At the same time, we're trying to do the right things on the ice, score goals and play good in the defensive zone."

With just one trip to the playoffs over his first seven seasons in the NHL, Huberdeau, who serves as one of the club's alternate captains, said his focus for next season doesn't involve building upon his own numbers, but rather simply getting the Panthers back into the playoffs.

"It's upon ourselves to bring this team to another level, and I think you can't sit and be satisfied with getting some points," Huberdeau said. "Like last year we had 96 points, but we weren't in the playoffs. I think we can't be satisfied with that, so we have to work hard and show the way to the other guys. When we made the playoffs [in 2016], other guys showed me the way, so I think I have to do the same thing right now to the younger guys."

While Huberdeau admits the onus is mainly on players such as himself to help to team get over the hump and back into the postseason picture next season, he also believes that the hiring of new head coach Joel Quenneville will also certainly help the team get to where it wants to be.

"It's great news for us," Huberdeau said of bringing in the three-time Stanley Cup winner. "We know him as a coach. He has a great pedigree, won a cup with Chicago. We know [Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon] knows him a lot, so I'm really excited to meet him and start working with him for next year."

COOL STAT

Huberdeau piled up the points at an historic rate this season.

Despite ranking second on the team in overall points, he did manage to pace the club with 31 multi-point games. How impressive is that? Well, it managed to set a new franchise record for multi-point performances, breaking Olli Jokinen's mark of 28 set during the 2006-07 campaign.

When looking at Huberdeau's season as a whole, his push toward the record really took off with a three-point night against the Boston Bruins on March 7. From there, he went on an absolutely epic tear, posting at least two points in 10 of the team's final 16 games to close out the season.

BEST GAME

It wasn't his highest-scoring game of the season, but Huberdeau's fingerprints were all over Florida's huge 2-1 comeback win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 29 at BB&T Center.

Trailing 1-0 just past the midway point of the third period, he sparked the team's resurgence when he set up Mike Hoffman on the power play to tie the game 1-1 at 13:16. Then, with just 1:06 left in regulation, Huberdeau netted the game-winner to cap off the come-from-behind win.

Video: PHI@FLA: Huberdeau drills Barkov's feed into twine

For his efforts, Huberdeau was named the game's first star.

"We didn't get the start we wanted, but I think we stuck with it," Huberdeau told reporters after the victory. "We had so many chances that wouldn't go in, but at the end it worked out for us."

GOAL OF THE YEAR

This one left even Barkov in awe.

Just one game after Florida's captain set the hockey world ablaze with an astounding between-the-legs goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 17, Huberdeau unveiled his own work of lamp-lighting art during the team's 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 19 at BB&T Center.

Having already found the back of the net earlier in the third period, Huberdeau locked in his first multi-goal performance of the season when he masterfully stickhandled his way through a trio of would-be defenders before scoring a slick backhander to make it 4-1 with 3:15 left in regulation.

Video: BUF@FLA: Huberdeau dangles, pots second goal

"I think it was even nicer than mine, for sure," Barkov said of Huberdeau's goal. "I mean, beating like three of their guys and the goalie, too… a little bit better celly [celebration] than mine, too."

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