Panthers notebook

Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau in pursuit of a trophy


Jonathan Huberdeau is a leading contender to become the first Panther to win the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL’s top rookie.

Thursday: Sabres at Panthers

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSNF; WSBR 740.

The series: Buffalo leads 43-27-4.

The game: This has been a disappointing season for the Sabres, one that cost longtime coach Lindy Ruff his job. Buffalo’s three-game winning streak was snapped with a loss in Tampa on Tuesday. Florida went 2-3 on its recent five-game road trip —- dropping the final three games.

The Florida Panthers have won very few NHL awards during their 18 seasons.

Pavel Bure, the biggest star the franchise has known, won the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in a season twice.

On awards voted on by peers or by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, only Brian Campbell has won, bringing home the Lady Bing Memorial Trophy for “gentlemanly play’’ from Las Vegas last summer.

Jonathan Huberdeau would like to add to the Panthers’ modest trophy case and is considered a favorite to be a finalist for the league’s rookie of the year.

No Florida player has won the Calder Trophy, although Huberdeau — with a strong finish in the final month — could make a strong case to be the first.

“He has great creativity to his game, is a smooth operator in tight spaces,’’ Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said.

“I think he is a very good teammate in which he understands the hierarchy of the dressing room while understanding he’s an important part of any success we’re going to have.

“He needs to play a strong game for us night in and night out, and I think he’s done that consistently for us.’’

After Tuesday’s loss in Toronto, Huberdeau was ranked first in the league among rookies in goals with 12 and second to Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher with 21 points.

The competition for the award is going to be stiff, with Conacher (24 points) and Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher (nine goals, 18 points, plus-8) being the top challengers right now.

Huberdeau being a well-known player in Canada should help him, however, if his numbers are there. A top-end junior player, Huberdeau was the third overall pick in 2011.

Voters from the PHWA select this award, and they might be swayed by Huberdeau’s youth (he’s just 19) and consider he might not have the talent surrounding him with the Panthers that others do.

“I think he’s in good shape, especially when you look at some of the guys he has played with compared to the other candidates,’’ said David Shoalts, a national hockey writer based in Toronto for the Globe and Mail.

“He’s really on the radar of the voters.’’

Huberdeau’s chances have been hurt by his recent dry streak. He has not scored a goal in nine games although he has assists in four of the past six games.

“I’m still learning. I have a lot to learn,’’ Huberdeau said.

“I got off to a hot start, but I need to keep going. Things have been slow a bit, but I need to keep going. Keep things simple. You play so many games in the NHL, you can’t be negative if you have a bad game.’’

Although Dineen said he knows what Huberdeau is going through, perhaps the pressure of being one of the few players on the Panthers who has been scoring consistently has worn on him.

Huberdeau once led the Panthers in goals, although Tomas Kopecky caught him. Shawn Matthias got his 10th on Tuesday.

“I definitely want to put up some points, help our team win some games,’’ Huberdeau said.

Collegiate look

The Panthers have somewhat of a rooting interest in the upcoming collegiate ice hockey regionals as seven of their prospects will participate.

Florida’s prospects include Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, North Dakota’s Corban Knight and Rocco Grimaldi, Eddie Wittchow of Wisconsin), Sam Brittain (Denver) and Michael Matheson from Boston College.

• Panthers forward Drew Shore Nick Quentin Shore

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category