Panthers 2011 NHL Draft Watch: Jonathan Huberdeau

With the NHL Draft quickly approaching, and Florida likely to pick high in the 2011 Draft, we're going to take a more in-depth look at the top 7 players in this year's draft. Read on!


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Only 17 years of age and in his second season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Jonathan Huberdeau has been rocketing up the draft rankings of many scouting organizations as of late. Huberdeau’s offensive talents have been on display the entire 2011 season, as he finished third in the league in scoring with 105 points, and currently is leading the Saint John Sea Dogs in the playoffs as they face the Victoriaville Tigers in the quarter-finals. Huberdeau started gaining more recognition this season for his leadership and strong scoring potential, and NHL scouts have clearly taken notice.

Classified by scouts as a play-making center, Huberdeau has excellent vision to go along with NHL-quality playmaking ability and hands. Centering the top line for Saint John, Huberdeau vastly increased production for his linemates with his solid passing and ability to draw defenders to him. Huberdeau is clearly a high-end offensive talent, but currently lacks the size to be a top-line NHL centerman, as he clocks in at 6’1", 171 lbs. However, he is still young and another couple of seasons in juniors would give him time to add size to his frame. Several scouts have compared him to Jeff Skinner in terms of playmaking and finishing ability, and also his likelihood to compete for an NHL roster spot once he passes his 18th birthday. As we have seen with players like Skinner, size and age aren’t always a true indicator of a player’s ability to make the jump and have a positive impact on a team’s success.

There are many scouts who are still torn on whether or not to rank Huberdeau higher than fellow prospect Sean Couturier, who is bigger, older and has had three full seasons in the QMJHL. Couturier has been deemed a franchise center by several scouts, and picked up a ton of awards in the QMJHL this season. However, in terms of pure offensive upside, many believe Huberdeau to be slightly more gifted. His size is a concern and his ability to translate his finesse-style game to the NHL may keep Huberdeau down a bit on draft day, but it’s clear NHL general managers are liking what they have seen so far from Huberdeau. Still, a top-end talented center is what the Florida Panthers are really looking for, and with Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Huberdeau and Courtier all available on draft day, GM Dale Tallon and company will likely get a shot at one of these top-end talents.

Jonathan Huberdeau Highlight Reel

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