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Not Buying Into the Hype

by Joseph Beguiristain / Florida Panthers
2011 third overall pick Jonathan Huberdeau has put up some gaudy numbers in his last two seasons in Saint John. The forward has recorded 177 points in 104 games.

Most hockey fans know that prospect Jonathan Huberdeau has all the makings of being someone special. The organization and Panthers fans alike consider him one of the best prospects to have ever come through South Florida.

It seems that Huberdeau himself didn’t get the memo.

“I’m here like everybody, everybody’s the same, everyone has a chance to make the team," said Huberdeau. "So I just want to continue to work hard and play my game and we’ll see what happens."

Huberdeau’s humbleness is just part of his allure; he can flat out fill the box score with ease. Last season for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, the 19-year-old left winger amassed 72 points (30 goals, 42 assists) with a plus-53 rating in just 37 games. That's almost two points a night. The year before that, Huberdeau had 105 points in 67 regular season games before dominating in the QMJHL playoffs and Memorial Cup. His performances during the 2011 post season earned him MVP honors in both instances.

Huberdeau has certainly enjoyed his time with the Sea Dogs.

“It was a great organization; they have great coaching so it was great to be there,” recalled Huberdeau. “They knew what you had to do to prepare for the NHL, which was great. All my teammates, we had a lot of fun together, it was just great to be there.”

The one knock on Huberdeau is his size. Scouts laud him for his all around excellent play, but claim that he needs to put on weight for the next level. Huberdeau not only agrees, but also he thinks that is why he went down last year despite the fact his offensive skills could have helped the Panthers the same year he was drafted. The young forward led the Cats in scoring during the pre-season.

“I just got to work hard and last year I think I went down because of my size, I wasn’t that big,” Huberdeau acknowledged. “This summer I think is crucial for me, I want to get bigger and get stronger and come back here at the camp and do my best.”

The Quebec native likened his weight situation to another high draft pick, Derick Brassard, who was drafted by and now plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Huberdeau said his goal weight is around 185-187 pounds and it seems like he will achieve his goal. After being sidelined right before the start of last season, he isn’t going to let this opportunity slip away.

“I want to stay here,” Huberdeau proclaimed. “My point is to make the team this year and I’m going to do everything to do it. You want to play in the NHL, that’s your dream and I’m going to do everything I have to do before September.”

Huberdeau enjoyed watching the surging Panthers last season and he is excited about being a part of that future.

“They [Panthers] added a lot of new players last year and I think they did a great job,” said Huberdeau. “The players were great…in the Playoffs I was watching Game 7 and for sure it was sad but they worked really hard.

"I think the future is good, we got a lot of good prospects too coming so it’s a great organization.”

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