Jonathan Huberdeau’s season started as good as it could get as the Panthers rookie scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot.
On Saturday, his season ended in fine fashion as well.
Huberdeau, the third pick of the 2011 draft, was given the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie for the 2013 season. Huberdeau became the Panthers’ first winner of the award as he beat out Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher and Chicago’s Brandon Saad.
“It was a surprise. There were two other guys who had great rookie years,’’ Huberdeau said from Chicago not long after accepting the award on the Hockey Night in Canada set at the Stanley Cup Finals.
“I wasn’t expecting anything. I’m pretty happy.’’
The vote was close as expected, with Huberdeau and Gallagher both receiving 54 first-place votes from the 179 members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association who voted.
Huberdeau tied for the rookie scoring lead with 31 points and was second on the Panthers.
Huberdeau set two franchise records, becoming the first Panther to score on two penalty shots in one season (Feb. 21 at Philadelphia and March 5 vs. Carolina).
Huberdeau’s 31 points were the most for a rookie in franchise history, beating Radek Dvorak’s 27 in 1995-96.
“I think he’s a great player,’’ Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby said. “He’s a great young player with a lot of skill. He seemed to adjust pretty quickly.’’
The 2013 season was a long one for Huberdeau, one of four Florida players to play in all 48 games during the lockout-shortened campaign.
Huberdeau ended up playing a total of 84 games during 2012-13 — 30 with his junior team in Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as six for Team Canada at World Juniors.
One of the first things Huberdeau bought once he got his first NHL paycheck was a new Ford Mustang convertible. Huberdeau knows exactly where his Calder Trophy can sit.
“For sure,’’ he said. “I can put it in the back seat.’’
Huberdeau opened his offseason by having hip surgery, a procedure he said will keep him off the ice for a few more weeks. Although Huberdeau said the injury wasn’t anything major, it was serious enough to warrant surgery.
The Panthers expect Huberdeau to be fully healed for the start of training camp in September.
“The rehab is going well. I’m ahead of the process and am taking my time and doing it properly,’’ Huberdeau said.
“We knew it was something that was bothering me during the season, but I had it checked out more thoroughly at the end. I made the decision to have surgery because I’m young. The rehab would be easier now than later.’’