Following Monday’s practice in South Florida, rookie Jonathan Huberdeau was called to meet with team officials where he was informed that he would remain with the team for the remainder of the season, thus starting his Entry Level Contract.
After an impressive three point performance to start his career, Huberdeau has been held scoreless since, as the entire Panther roster has hit a wall early on this season.
“It’s not like if I play six games, I can stop working and I’m on the team,” Huberdeau told Panthers.nhl.com, “I have got to keep working. I want to play the best as I can and that’s what I’m going to try to do…work hard and keep it simple.”
A exorbitant amount of injuries have kept the Panthers from establishing any form of chemistry and flow, as Coach Kevin Dineen has been forced to shuffle his lines every night in hopes of finding something that works with his depleted roster. As players return from injury, Huberdeau should be able to get back into his comfort zone playing alongside opening night line mates, Peter Mueller and Alex Kovalev.
Currently, players such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Cory Conacher are the cream of the crop in this season’s Calder Trophy eligible class, but Huberdeau still has a chance to contend if continues to mature and push past his early struggles.
After being outscored 18-3 in their past four games, both Huberdeau and the rest of the Panthers will need to figure out their problems quickly if the team hopes to contend this season. Now that the NHL has switched to a draft lottery, there is little benefit to being the worst team in the league this year.
- After going through the team’s full workout on Monday morning, it looks as if forward Kris Versteeg may finally return to the ice for a Panthers squad in desperate need of offensive help. Versteeg, who was third in team scoring last season with 54 points (23G 31A), has yet to play this season while nursing a lower body injury. His return to the team’s top line should help the Panthers chemistry and give them some of that intensity that carried them to the playoffs last season.
- After an impressive three game stint in the NHL, rookie forward Drew Shore has been sent back to the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage. Most recently, Shore was a bright on a Panthers squad bereft of quality on-ice play. Although Shore did not tally a goal, he was impressive in the face off circle, going 10-12 in his opportunities. As a result of his demotion, Shore will be able to play in this week’s AHL All-Star Game, but could possibly return to the Panthers lineup soon thereafter if the team continues to struggle.