Sep 25, 2013, 9:56 AM EST
Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau wasn’t a complete unknown going into the 2013 campaign, but it was also fair to say that it was hard to put high expectations on him as a rookie.
After recording 31 points in the shortened season en route to winning the Calder Trophy, things will be different in 2013-14.
“We’re going to rely on him heavily,” Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell told the Sun Sentinel. “Instead of last year coming in and not knowing what to expect. We truly need him to be a force for our team.”
That might seem unfair, but the Panthers are a young team that’s tired of losing. Making the playoffs will be an uphill battle for them and their odds will be far worse if Huberdeau deals with a sophomore slump.
Avoiding that regression will be easier said than done. The last four Calder Trophy winners, from Steve Mason to Gabriel Landeskog, have regressed in their second season, albeit sometimes due to injury. Of course, just because that’s been the trend doesn’t mean that Huberdeau is any more or less likely to struggle in 2013-14, but it does highlight that one good season doesn’t make Huberdeau a safe bet going forward.
The 20-year-old’s position is particularly unique because he still needs to prove that he can withstand the rigors of an 82-game NHL campaign. At the same time, there are reasons to believe in Huberdeau, especially when you consider that he entered the shortened season with a hip injury sustained during the World Junior Championships and proceeded to play through it.
“He’ll be stronger, fitter and pain-free,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. “I expect bigger and better from him. He’ll have some hiccups as well over 82 games. Even veteran players have hiccups, ups and downs in an 82-game season.”
For his part Huberdeau wants to improve “in every way” and after months of getting ready to do just that, the Panthers’ campaign will start next week.
- Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul threaten lawsuit after tweet goes to air 32
- Doan: Coyotes rebuild was ‘not my idea, not my ideal situation’ 21
- Video: Kessel says the way Toronto media treats Phaneuf is ‘embarrassing’ 39
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 8
- Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy 49
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline 77
- Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’ 22
- PHT’s 2015 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker 36
- Ducks get their veteran d-man, adding Wisniewski from Columbus 16
- Lovejoy returns to Pittsburgh for Despres 52
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (171)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline (77)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Wings get Zidlicky from Devils (74)