By Sam Wells for floridapanthers.com
|Jonathan Huberdeau looks to score a goal during July's Development Camp (Photo Credit: Glenn Odebralski)
After being selected by the Florida Panthers as the number three overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry-Draft, center Jonathan Huberdeau
was completely overcome with emotions. It was a dream come true for the St. Jerome, Quebec native, being the first player drafted out of his hometown.
Hearing his name announced by Panthers General Manager, Dale Tallon, Huberdeau was ecstatic about reaching one NHL dream.
“It was a feeling I can’t describe. My family and friends were so happy and the support was great,” said Huberdeau during July’s Development Camp. “Now with camp, though, we’re all pretty much starting over. We have to compete for spots on the team now so I have had to kind of forget about the draft and get to work.”
During the 2010-2011 regular season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), Huberdeau put up incredible numbers for the Saint John Sea Dogs, netting 43 goals and recording 62 assists to finish with 105 total points. Huberdeau was then awarded the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the 2011 Memorial Cup MVP after picking up the QMJHL playoffs MVP honors, and with plenty of NHL scouts in attendance during the two tournaments, the young hockey phenom’s draft stock rose to the very top. There the Panthers ecstatically snatched him up with their first round pick.
Now, an opportunity to play his favorite sport professionally on a team with such a bright future is exciting for Huberdeau.
“Since I started playing hockey as a young boy, that’s what you dream about,” said Huberdeau. “Getting a chance to play in the NHL is something unbelievable. Getting drafted was an amazing feeling, but it’s really just the beginning I think.
“You work hard like everyone else now because you never know when you’re going to get a chance to play.”
It is evident that Huberdeau works extremely hard and takes nothing for granted. He believes in his ability to perform on the ice but does not act like he is any better than his teammates or opponents.
Huberdeau’s modesty and focused attitude are extremely impressive considering he just turned 18 this past June. He attributes his mature perspective on life and current situation to his upbringing in Quebec, learning the values of humility and hard work from his parents, Alain and Josée.
In the Huberdeau household, education is considered even more important than hockey in some respects. They understand the fact that with one serious injury, Jonathan’s hockey career could be over in an instant, and without a solid education, he would have nothing to fall back on.
In a recent interview with Greg Leland, the education coordinator for the Saint John Sea Dogs, he explained the great perspective Huberdeau’s parents have on schoolwork.
“Some parents toss school aside and say, ‘Worry about it later,’” said Leland. “These people have their heads screwed on properly. His father realizes, you know what, he could have a knee injury tomorrow and it’s all over.”
On and off the ice, Huberdeau appears focused and ready to get his professional career underway. He admits there were some nerves as he got out onto the ice when the Panthers development camp began, but again, it was all a part of the process.
“I try not to really think about the pressure too much and just have fun out there,” said Huberdeau. “I am a huge fan of the new red Panther jerseys, and am going to work as hard as I can to make sure I get to put one on sometime soon.”
It appears as though Jonathan Huberdeau
is destined for stardom. He is the complete package on the ice, with a versatile game that most resembles that of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier. He fully understands what he needs to do in order to keep improving everyday so he can get a chance to wear a Florida Panthers jersey with his name and number on the back.
Even though he is merely 18 years of age, the Florida Panthers selected a player with humbled confidence and a professionalism that is way beyond his years. And he’ll be able to show it off once rookie and training camp opens up in September as he aims for a spot on the 23-man roster.