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Get to Know a Panther: Jonathan Huberdeau

As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Panthers, Japers’ Rink will be looking at some of the important Florida men and how they might impact the series.

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NHL: NOV 27 Panthers at Capitals Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jonathan Huberdeau

#11 / Left Wing, Center

Height: 6’1” | Weight: 202 | Born: June 4, 1993

Birthplace: Saint-Jerome, Que | Acquired: Drafted 1st Round, 3rd overall in 2011

Assets: Simply oozes offense from his pores, and can be a major asset on the power play. Has tremendous hand/eye coordination and plenty of offensive creativity and playmaking skills.

Flaws: Needs to work on his overall game without the puck, since he is still lacking in that department. Must also get stronger in order to better compete with professional defensemen.

Career Potential: Creative, high-scoring winger.

(Via TSN)

via @JFresh

Why you should know who he is: A near-certain Hart Trophy finalist as League MVP, Huberdeau led the NHL in assists (85) and finished tied for second on the circuit in points (115), was tied for third in power-play points (38) and second in short-handed points (5). But he’s Jonathan Huberdeau - you already know who he is, especially with the five points he tallied in three games against the Caps this season (and 24 in 25 career games). He may not be worthy of the Hart hype (or even be the best player on his team), but Huberdeau is an elite playmaker, particularly off the rush, and is extremely dangerous whenever he’s on the ice.

How the Caps can stop him: Hart candidate? Yes. Selke candidate? Not so much. Whether by design or player preference (or both), Huberdeau isn’t a particularly committed defensive player, frequently leaving his teammates to win pucks in the defensive zone as he gets an early jump on the transition in an attempt to stretch the opponent’s defense and create a rush opportunity. It’s high-risk, high-reward play, but something that could lead to some quality offense... at both ends of the ice - look no further than the play against the Caps that Dom Luszczyszyn and Shayna Goldman highlight in their piece at The Athletic (Huberdeau is number 11, the Florida left wing):

For the Caps, what this means is trying to make Huberdeau play without the puck and in his own zone (easier said than done), and making good decisions, particularly by the right defenseman (John Carlson, Nick Jensen, Justin Schultz) on when to pinch and when to drop back. Over the course of the series, you can bet on Huberdeau’s cherry-picking resulting in goals both ways... the only question is which net is filled more frequently as a result, and, over the course of the season, it hasn’t been Florida’s.