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Huberdeau Returned to Juniors; Gudbranson Named to Opening Night Roster

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 2:49 PM / News
By Carly Peters  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Huberdeau Returned to Juniors; Gudbranson Named to Opening Night Roster
Jonathan Huberdeau celebrates one of his pre-season goals at the BankAtlantic Center with Kris Versteeg.
What was expected to be a routine Florida Panthers practice at Saveology.com Iceplex Monday morning turned into a newsworthy event when head coach Kevin Dineen talked to the media after the skate.

Dineen announced that Panthers rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson will start the season with the club and make his NHL debut Saturday when the Cats visit the New York Islanders, but the noteworthy comment was overshadowed by the news that prospect Jonathan Huberdeau will not skate with the Panthers this season and will be returned to his junior club, the Saint John Sea Dogs.

"He made that an extremely tough decision for us, given his maturity as a person and his play," Dineen said of Huberdeau, before adding, "at this time, he still has some physical maturing to do and that is better suited at the junior level."

Dineen repeatedly talked about Huberdeau's skill, which was evident this preseason as the 18-year-old posted three goals and one assist in five games, leading the club in goals and tied for the team lead in points. The head coach said that impressive performance made it "very tempting" to push Huberdeau's progression, but it was ultimately the right call to let him develop in juniors with the Saint John Sea Dogs, a program Dineen referred to as "excellent."

While Huberdeau would have certainly welcomed a chance to play in the NHL this season, he admitted that he agreed with the decision.

"It's just precaution; I'm not that big and I don't want to get hurt this year," said the Panthers 2011 first-round pick (3rd overall).

The Saint-Jerome, Que., native admitted that he felt outmuscled against league veterans and talked about getting stronger during the upcoming season.

Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon echoed Dineen and Huberdeau's sentiments on the decision in his session with the media this afternoon.

"It was tempting, really tempting. But you've got to make the decision that's best long term, for the kid's benefit and our benefit," said Tallon. "You could tell there's a vulnerability as far as the size, but we know we didn't mess up on the draft, that's for sure."

"You've got 220-pound, 30-year-old guys leaning on him; he's not playing against 160-pound, 170-pound kids. And you go deeper into the season, more vulnerability as far as getting hurt, and we're here for the long haul. We know that he can play…It's exciting for our franchise to know we have that."
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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
 
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