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Florida Panthers: Can Jonathan Huberdeau live up to new contract?

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Jonathan Huberdeau might not have eye-popping stats at first glance, but considering he is only a 23-year-old, it’s quite impressive what he’s been able to accomplish in the NHL thus far.

The Florida Panthers are convinced that Huberdeau is the guy to lead their franchise for the foreseeable future. The organization made that clear when they signed him to a six-year, $35.4 million contract extension. And with a potential Stanley Cup roster, Huberdeau needs to prove he’s worth every penny.

As previously mentioned, Huberdeau is only 23 years of age. In NHL circles that’s still pretty young. He’s only begun to mature into the player that the Panthers envisioned him to be. There was certainly an adjustment period, but Huberdeau finally seems to have figured out the NHL.

During his first two seasons, Huberdeau was only able to record 59 points. That’s not exactly what the Panthers expected when they drafted him 3rd overall in the 2011 Draft. It wasn’t until Huberdeau’s third year that he started to pick things up, scoring 54 points for the 2014-15 season.

It seemed like the Panthers investment was going to pay off, and he once again rewarded them during the 2015-16 campaign with 59 points. And while these statistics are ideal for a young NHL superstar, he needs to step up his game even more for the 2016-17 season.

Like last season, Huberdeau will spend his time settled on the first line. Panthers coach, Gerard Gallant, apparently trusts him to play alongside promising youngster Aleksander Barkov, and veteran Jaromir Jagr, as Gallant played the three together 17.51 percent of all Florida’s shifts.

Most of the scoring comes from the Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr line, and Huberdeau has thrived because of it. You’d expect the three to be even better this season as the Panthers’ top option. That means more production from Jonathan Huberdeau, as he will no doubt prove he’s worth that $35.4 million contract.

Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com