With thirteen games remaining to play in the regular season for the Florida Panthers, they were three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third spot in the Atlantic Division and three points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second and final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. They were on a two-game win streak before the play stoppage and had a 4-4-2 record in their last ten games.
A huge reason why the Panthers were in the position they were in is the play of alternate captain Jonathan Huberdeau. Over the last two seasons, he has registered 170 points, which is 9th best in the NHL over that span. If the NHL elects to resume the regular season, Huberdeau is on pace to match his career-high of ninety-two points, a total that he set last season. This season, Huberdeau led the team in scoring with seventy-eight points in sixty-nine games played. He was third on the Panthers in goals with twenty-three, only trailing pending unrestricted free agents Mike Hoffman (29) and Evgenii Dadonov (25), and also led the team in assists with fifty-five. Huberdeau also drew the second-most penalties on the team this year with twenty, with eight taken, giving him an impressive 8:20 penalty taken/drawn ratio. His giveaway/takeaway ratio, however, isn’t as amazing as his other statistics this season, as he had a 70:42 ratio (-28 turnover +/-). However, he was a +5 this season, which was the third-best on the team behind Aaron Ekblad (+12) and MacKenzie Weegar (+6).
AB wise, his +1.87 was also the third-highest on the team, just behind Noel Acciari (+2.44) and Aleksander Barkov (+1.96). This individual score was also Huberdeau’s highest score since his +5.19 season in 2015-16. Before this season, he had three consecutive negative scores of -0.66 (2016-17), -0.42 (2017-18), and -2.84 (2018-19). Huberdeau’s career AB score moves to +1.19, which is more than respectable given that he’s played eight seasons in the league.
If the league decides to resume play, jumping immediately into the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Florida would likely be the odd team out according to point-percentage. Failing to qualify for the playoffs this season would be the seventeenth time in the last two decades Florida would miss the playoffs, and the fourth straight season without playoffs in Sunrise. Fellow Panthers Sergei Bobrovsky and Captain Aleksander Barkov expressed their opinions urging the NHL to resume play, allowing teams to finish the regular season to give them a chance to compete for a playoff spot in the crowded Eastern Conference. We are still in limbo regarding a date for the NHL to resume play or not, but we will certainly be following the situation closely as we expect most hockey fans are. More to come.