All of us here at LBC have been talking about the ongoing CBA negotiations and what a potential lockout could mean for the league. The consensus is obvious: none of us hockey lovers want to see the owners lock out the players. That would of course result in no Florida Panthers hockey for an extended period of time.
However, no one's thought about the lockout and its effect on Florida's players. What does it mean that Stephen Weiss may get a year older, Brian Campbell returns a year older, some players not planning (publicly, yet) on playing anywhere else? That would not be good for the Cats, and particularly controversial for one specific Panthers rookie. More and a poll after the jump...
Jonathan Huberdeau, the most anticipated Panthers forward prospect since the early 2000s, is set to make the roster out of training camp. GM Dale Tallon has all but shown us the opening day lineup to say Huberdeau will be a Panther in 2012-13, as he has virtually nothing left to prove at the Junior level after dominating the QMJHL for three seasons. And after continuing to show his prowess in international play, it's clear the kid is ready for the bigs.
The issue is will he even have a league to play in this coming season? With the CBA negotiations looking fragile, there's a good chance the NHL may be locked out for an unknown amount of time. Huberdeau is unfortunately too young to play in the AHL, and Tallon truly believes he has no reason to play in Juniors for another year. But if the NHL doesn't start in October, could Huberdeau's development take an unfortunate turn for the worst?
There's mixed evidence when looking at the league's Entry Drafts from 2003 and 2004 (two and one years, respectively, prior to the cancellation of 2004-05). However, the '04 draft, where many players may have made the jump to the NHL if it weren't for the lockout, had only three eventual NHL All-Stars: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Mike Green. The third overall forward taken (similar to Huberdeau) was Andrew Ladd at LW. Ladd's development may have stunted. Ladd is still a very serviceable NHL player, but he is not the superstar we are hoping to find with Huberdeau.
Here's to believing his development will be just fine. Some may say it will give him another year to bulk up some more and get an NHL-ready body. But the anticipation of waiting may get to his head. What do you think? We'll just have to wait and see... and hope.