After much anticipation, Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers selected Saint John Sea Dogs center Jonathan Huberdeau with the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Read on to find out more about the newest top prospect in the Panthers system...
Who is he?
Huberdeau is a very creative forward with the offensive skills the current Panther roster sorely lacks. He proved himself and silenced some critics with his incredible performance in the Memorial Cup for the Saint John Sea Dogs, winning the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy and vaulting himself to the third-ranked skater in the draft this year. He also dominated in the QMJHL this past season, scoring 105 points in 67 games. He has proven himself as one of the premier offensive talents in the draft this season and should become a real scoring threat in the NHL.
When will he be a part of the Panthers' lineup?
Huberdeau has all the skills to make it in the NHL, but likely needs at least one more year in juniors. Tallon has repeatedly stated he does not want to rush prospects, so I would expect to see Huberdeau back in juniors next season, but he will attend the Panthers rookie camp and will likely turn a lot of heads. He is a bit light yet for the NHL game, so expect to see him bulk up a bit more as he matures, and further refines his play at both ends of the ice.
Did the Panthers do well?
Absolutely. Any offensive player in the top five in this draft is a huge boost for the Panthers in the long run. Huberdeau provides some the best offensive talent out of any of the skaters in the draft this year.