‘A heck of a participant’: Former teammates consider Flames' Huberdeau will flip it round

‘A heck of a participant’: Former teammates consider Flames' Huberdeau will flip it round

Huberdeau, who turned 30 in June, hasn’t lacked accountability. What’s lacked is influence on the scoresheet

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The manufacturing doesn’t match the value tag.

Jonathan Huberdeau realizes that.

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Huberdeau is just some months into the biggest contract in Calgary Flames franchise historical past — an eight-year whopper that carries an annual cap hit of $10.5 million US.

Heading into Monday’s matchup towards his former workforce, he additionally was on tempo for a career-low 40 factors.

“Clearly, I feel I’ve earned this contract, however you continue to must earn it after that,” stated Huberdeau, who was coming off a record-setting season — a brand new benchmark for probably the most assists by an NHL left-winger — when he was traded to the Flames in July 2022 and shortly after put pen to paper on that doozy of a deal.

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“I attempt to not put strain as a result of it hasn’t been straightforward. So I attempt not to consider the contract.”

Huberdeau’s struggles had been spotlighted once more Monday as Matthew Tkachuk and the Florida Panthers paid a go to to the Saddledome.

The slumping Flames ahead spent the primary decade of his profession within the Sunshine State, the place he blossomed into one of many NHL’s most dynamic offensive skills and most dazzling playmakers.

These within the C of Crimson are, understandably, questioning if that man obtained misplaced on the way in which to Calgary.

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Huberdeau, who turned 30 in June, hasn’t lacked accountability. He has repeated time and again that he expects extra from himself.

What’s lacked is influence on the scoresheet. He definitely hasn’t regarded like a man who piled up 115 factors — together with 85 helpers — in his last winter with the Panthers. Or perhaps a man who averaged 1.12 PPG in three seasons main as much as that.

The Flames didn’t foresee this form of drop-off.

His former buddies weren’t anticipating it both.

Because the Panthers fetched Monday’s pre-game stats package deal, they discovered Huberdeau ranked eleventh amongst Flames with 4 targets and tenth with 15 factors via 31 contests. As they checked the lineup board, they discovered him listed as a third-liner alongside a pair of shutdown-first forwards in Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman.

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“He’s most likely one of the vital proficient guys that I’ve ever performed with,” stated Panthers ahead Sam Bennett, a well-recognized face round these components and now a fan favorite in Florida. “I beloved my time taking part in with him. He helped me deliver my recreation to the subsequent degree, really.

“And clearly I find out about struggles in Calgary, too. It may be robust. It could drag on you. Generally, it looks like when issues aren’t going your means, the strain builds and will get worse and worse. Positively, I really feel some sympathy for him, however I feel he’s a heck of a participant. I nonetheless consider he has the skills to show all the pieces round.”

Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett #9 of the Florida Panthers shoots towards the Seattle Kraken throughout the first interval at Local weather Pledge Area on December 12, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Steph Chambers/Getty Pictures

For Bennett, the strain he was feeling in seven campaigns in Calgary was primarily tied to his draft standing. The Flames had by no means chosen as excessive as fourth general earlier than they referred to as his identify at that slot in 2014.

For Huberdeau, the strain comes from his previous accomplishments, from the blockbuster commerce he was part of and from his paycheques. He’ll be amassing $10.5 million per season via the top of 2030-31.

“If you happen to don’t have strain on you, you’re not an influence participant,” Flames coach Ryan Huska stated when requested about his highest-paid participant. “That’s one thing that he can flip round and flip it so it’s a constructive factor for him.

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“That’s most likely the recommendation I might give him — ‘It’s factor, since you are an influence participant. And also you wish to be that kind of participant. So now it’s nearly going and taking part in and trusting who you might be.’”

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Flames followers, whereas thrilled with the latest performances from ex-Panthers rearguard MacKenzie Weegar, hold ready for a glimpse of the previous Huberdeau.

They’re anxious this is perhaps the getting-older Huberdeau.

“Generally, when gamers who count on to attain aren’t scoring, there’s an inclination to assume that’s all they’re,” Huska pressured after Monday’s morning skate, sharing a message that he has seemingly handed alongside to No. 10 on quite a few events. “However there’s extra to his recreation than simply that. He brings different issues to the desk, and generally it’s vital for him to keep in mind that too.”

Within the Panthers’ locker room, they bear in mind what Huberdeau is able to. They don’t have a nasty phrase to say about their former teammate.

“I feel generally while you change surroundings, it’s actually not straightforward,” Panthers centre Sam Reinhart stated previous to this showdown with the Flames. “He’s such a constructive particular person, however you understand it eats away at anyone. I want him all of the success and I do know he’s going to do all he can to battle via and put together the fitting means.

“You hope he comes out of it. He’s such a proficient participant and such particular person, so that you all the time hope for the most effective for him. Hopefully not tonight, however after that.”

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