The Florida Panthers locked up a key part of the club’s future as the team announced Sunday that it has signed rookie Jonathan Huberdeau to an entry-level contract.


Huberdeau, 18 was drafted third overall in the 2011 NHL-entry draft by the Florida Panthers. He played in five preseason games this season for Florida leading the way in production with 3 goals and an assist. Despite his great play for the Panthers, GM Dale Tallon decided to send him back to his QMJHL team the Saint John Sea Dogs for another year of development, just like the club did last season with defensemen Erik Gudbranson who was also selected third overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.


“We are pleased to have signed Jonathan,” said Tallon when asked about the signing. “He is a proven winner who leads by example both on and off the ice. He is a great two-way player who shows passion for the game and makes players around him better. Jonathan had an excellent pre-season and we look forward to his progress this season with Saint John.”


Last season, with the Saint John Sea Dogs, Huberdeau scored 43 goals and added 62 assists in just 67 games. Huberdeau then went on to lead his team in the QMJHL playoffs where he earned playoff MVP scoring 16 goals and 30 points in 19 games, then earned Memorial Cup MVP status by scoring 4 goals and 2 assists in 4 games.


Unfortunately, Huberdeau is not eligible to play in the NHL this season with the Panthers unless it is on an emergency recall basis. So far this season with the Sea Dogs, Huberdeau has picked up 1 goal and 4 assists in only two games.



Adam Reid