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Future reinforcement: Jonathan Huberdeau signs entry-level deal with Florida

Oct 10, 2011, 4:00 PM EDT

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Jonathan Huberdeau Getty Images

Count Jonathan Huberdeau into the fold in Florida. The 2011 first round pick, third overall, is officially a member of the Panthers after signing his three-year, entry-level deal with the team. Huberdeau impressed a bit in training camp, but the Panthers opted to send him back to junior hockey before even having a deal worked out.

The Panthers have gotten heat in the past with 2010 first round pick Erik Gudbranson in not getting a deal done last year, but this situation was much different. While Gudbranson could’ve played with the Panthers last season, Huberdeau wasn’t ready to be in the NHL yet this season.

With one more year in junior hockey, Huberdeau will show up in Panthers camp next season ready to be an NHL stud and challenge for the Calder Trophy. Florida will also have a pair of forwards due to be free agents after the season including Kris Versteeg. Expect Huberdeau to challenge to be a top-six forward in Florida next season and to have coach Kevin Dineen and GM Dale Tallon to be smiling widely about that.

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