Jonathan Huberdeau did not have the sophomore season he anticipated to have with the Florida Panthers.
Huberdeau was drafted in the first round by Florida with the third overall choice in the 2011 National Hockey League Draft. The 20-year-old was the first Panther player to win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year in 2013. Huberdeau also recorded the most points as a teenager in franchise history during his first season with the team. But he had a tough time recovering from surgery on his hip in May 2013.
“It’s hard to like come back from surgery. I had to do rehab all summer and I didn’t have much time to train. So it’s stuff like that kind of dropped me a little bit behind everybody. But I think it’s more this summer kind of working through it. I’m going to have more time to get stronger,” said Huberdeau.
Huberdeau played in 69 games with Florida this season and recorded 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists). The forward fell three points short of the 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) he scored in 48 games his rookie season. Huberdeau was also out for 11 games because of an upper body injury. He was able to return to the ice and score his ninth goal of the year on April 8 when the Panthers hosted the Philadelphia Flyers. Huberdeau was glad to end his 19-game goal-scoring drought.
“It was a long, long time. And I think it’s all good to come back. I had time to think about it, free my mind up. I came back and I said I’m going to play hard and keep it simple and it worked out,” Huberdeau said.
Florida ended the season with a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 12, which marks the 12th year the team missed the playoffs in the past 13 seasons. They had an overall record of 29-45-8. The Panthers finished seventh in the Atlantic Division and ranked 29th in the final 2013-2014 NHL standings.
“It’s been a hard season. We finished like almost last but we have a great future. We have a bright future with a lot of young guys. This season was a little bit hard for every one of us, especially I think me. I didn’t have the best season that I wanted to have. And now it’s more like forget about it and think about next season and train hard in the summer,” said Huberdeau.
Huberdeau is already working on improving for next season during the off-season.
“Well of course, the hip kind of not as strong as I would want it to be. So work on my hip and get it strong and equal to the other one. And I think lower body I want to be stronger to have more power and more strength to improve my skating,” said Huberdeau, “I train like five days a week in the summer with a trainer. And it’s more like a certain day you do more lower body workouts and then another day you do upper body. So Monday it’s lower body, Tuesday upper body, Wednesday it’s more cardio, and Thursday lower body, Friday upper body, so that’s kind of my schedule for the summer. And I go on the ice once or twice a week.”
And training is not the only thing scheduled on Huberdeau’s summer agenda. He was selected to play for the 2014 Canada Men’s National Team at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Men’s Championship in Minsk, Belarus from May 9-25. Huberdeau played on Canada’s team at the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Championship and he won a Bronze medal in 2012.