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Huby to St. Louie: Red-hot Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau named to NHL All-Star Game

Huberdeau receives first All-Star Game selection of career

Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.
Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE, Fla. – Jonathan Huberdeau is having the best season of his not-as-young-as-you-think career.

Sure, the sniping Florida Panthers forward called 'Huby' by his teammates is just 26 years old, but this is already his eighth season in the NHL.

It was all the way back in 2013 when the then-19-year-old won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

All these years later, a new honor has been bestowed upon Huberdeau.

For the first time in his career, Huberdeau will represent the Panthers at the NHL All-Star game.

"It's a great honor to be in the All-Star Game for the first time," Huberdeau said, just a couple hours after being informed of the news during a team flight to Columbus. "I think I'm playing well this year, points are coming in. I'm just really happy. I think it’s a great experience and I'm looking forward to it."

The former third overall draft pick is already second in franchise history with 412 points, needing just eight more to pass Olli Jokinen for the top spot on the list.

He’s become an integral part of Florida’s forward ranks, providing key minutes both at even strength and on the power play.

“Jonathan has developed into an elite talent in the NHL and we are thrilled for him to receive this recognition,” said Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon. “A leader for our club, and in our community, Jonathan is well deserving of this honor, and we look forward to him proudly representing the Panthers.”

The 2020 NHL All-Star Game takes place in St. Louis on Saturday, Jan. 25. Huberdeau will also participate in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday, Jan. 24.

When asked about events he'd potentially like to participate in, Huby's answer was exactly what you'd expect.

"I think the passing (drill)," he said. "That's one of my strengths, so, obviously, I'd like to do that."

Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau reacts after assisting on a goal scored by Aleksander Barkov against the Montreal Canadiens, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.
Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau reacts after assisting on a goal scored by Aleksander Barkov against the Montreal Canadiens, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Huberdeau's play has steadily improved in recent years, and being able to hone his craft alongside fellow budding superstar Aleksander Barkov has surely helped things along.

Over the past two seasons, however, Huberdeau's game has reached new heights. He's established himself as a world-class scoring forward while maintaining his strength and, perhaps more importantly, his durability.

Currently, Huberdeau has played in 233 consecutive games, an ironman streak dating back to February 2017. He's got 240 points (83-157-240) during that span.

"It makes a difference," Huberdeau said of playing every game. "I've been hurt a lot, so just to be healthy, it gets your confidence level up."

This season, Huby is trending towards his best year yet, and possibly the highest scoring season in Panthers history.

Through 38 games, Huberdeau leads Florida with 16 goals and 37 assists. That puts him on pace for 114 points over an 82-game schedule.

The highest scoring season in Panthers history belongs to Barkov, who put up 96, just last season.

To his credit, Huberdeau wasn't far behind his linemate, adding 92 points of his own. That total far exceeds Huby's previous high mark of 69 points, set the previous year.

BARKY TO THE BLUES’ HOUSE?

Barkov, also having a big 2019-20 season with 45 points in 38 games, could possibly join Huberdeau at the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

The NHL named Barkov as Florida's finalist for the Last Man In ballot. Fans will vote one final player from each of the league's four divisions into the All-Star Game.

Barkov will be up against Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Tampa’s Steven Stamkos and Toronto’s Mitch Marner, among others, from the Atlantic Division.

The full list, and information on how to vote for Barkov, can be found by clicking here.

Voting opens Wednesday at 12 p.m.

HAPPY HUBY DOOBIE DOO

Huberdeau said his teammates were thrilled when they found out about his selection to St. Louis.

"They were excited," he said. "They all congratulated me on the plane today. It was cool. Obviously, I hope Barky can get in too. It would be fun to have him there."

The news caps off a spectacular end to 2019 for Huberdeau.

Over his last six games, Huby has 16 points (5-11-16), including three 4-point games, while leading the Panthers to a 5-1-0 record.

He also just spent the NHL's holiday break with his family, down from Quebec, and had to procure 160 tickets to Sunday's win over Montreal in order to accommodate all the friends and family members attending the game.

“It’s been great,” he said of the past couple weeks. “December is always a special month for me. A lot of French people in Florida, and a lot of family. The schedule was great, home for a lot of days and time with family and friends. Obviously, hockey was going well too, which is even better.”


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