You could have thrown in the towel on the Florida Panthers after the injury to Johnathan Huburdeau. However, the team has done quite the opposite, as they recorded a point in three of their five games. And while Huburdeau isn’t on the ice, it’s another Johnathan that has taken charge on South Beach.
Johnathan Marchessault not only leads the Panthers in scoring but is also one of the NHL leaders as well. His eight points place him near the top of the scoring list and place him with names such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, and Erik Karlsson.
Considering that Marchessault’s career-high point total is 11, it’s a fair bet to assume he will eclipse that mark this season. Only 25 years of age, there is still plenty of room for improvement too, and it will come with a Florida team that has finally given him a shot to show what he can do.
With Tampa Bay during the 2015-16 season, Marchessault played in 45 games. And while that’s a good amount of time on the ice, it’s hardly enough when you’re being featured on a team’s third or fourth line.
Now on the first line, you can expect Panthers coach, Gerard Gallant, to keep the top unit of Marchessault, Jaromir Jagr, and Aleksander Barkov together for the foreseeable future. The only hindrance to the this is the return of Johnathan Huburdeau, who will assuredly get his top line spot back when fully healthy.
If Marchessault continues to play at this pace, it’s going to be incredibly tough placing him elsewhere in the Panthers lineup. Although it’s very easy to slot him into the second line, as Florida could pair him up with Vincent Trochek and Reilly Smith, which could be just as deadly of a trio as the Jagr-Barkov- Huburdeau line the Panthers expected to start the season with.
The Panthers are a Stanley Cup contender for the 2016-17 season. The loss of Huburdeau might have hurt a little, but with Marchessault, the pain has somewhat subsided. It’s unclear when Huburdeau will be back with the team, but you can expect Johnathan Marchessault to continue his play until he does.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288