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Huberdeau Returned to Juniors; Gudbranson Named to Opening Night Roster

Monday, 10.3.2011 / 2:49 PM ET / 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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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