Best Panthers Player - 2013
The Florida Panthers have been an absolute mess. Injuries, bad breaks, and poor play have made the most irrelevant of all local pro teams fade even deeper into the ether. However, if there was ever a reason to pay attention to the Cats and ready that bandwagon, it's their goal-scoring, point-amassing, defense-obliterating rookie sensation, Jonathan Huberdeau. The Panthers selected Huberdeau third overall in the 2011 NHL draft (one of the benefits of being consistently stinky), and the results have been consistently kick-ass from the word "go." In his first year with the minor-league Sea Dogs, Huberdeau scored 15 goals, and added 20 assists for 35 points in 61 games. In 2011, he led all scorers at the Memorial Cup (the Canadian junior-league championship), signaling he was more than ready to throw down with the big boys. Huberdeau is a virtuoso with a hockey stick in his hands. He can finesse a pinpoint-accurate pass one minute and turn a puck into a lethal heat-seeking missile that annihilates nets the next. In his first pro season with a depleted Panthers team, Huberdeau was a star. He tied for the NHL lead among rookies with 31 points on the year and was top five in goals and assists. The Panthers are stuck in the muck of mediocrity. But their future is bright with Jonathan Huberdeau igniting the NHL ice with his awesomeness.