June 30th, 2013 and June 24th, 2011. Two days will forever live in Florida Panther franchise history; The days that brought the two greatest Florida Panther players ever to play. Ever since they were drafted, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have solidified themselves as the greatest Florida Panthers players in franchise history. Despite all of their differences, these two players have resurrected this franchise. And they are ready for the exciting new chapter that is coming to Sunrise, Florida.
Aleksander Barkov the Modest Leader
Whether it’s on the ice, in the locker room, or the community, Aleksander Barkov is undoubtedly the definition of a true captain. Even though he may not be the loudest guy in the room. If each player had a slogan, his would-be “actions speak louder than words.” Carrying that with him every single time he steps foot into an arena. Barkov is someone every franchise would do almost anything to acquire. Barkov will go down as the greatest Florida Panther player to ever throw on that jersey as a bonafide elite two-way center. He is already atop the leaderboard in most franchise records. Whether it is second or eighth, it won’t stay like that for long.
Currently sitting at second in franchise points (465), goals (181), and assists (284), Barkov is not far behind his partner Jonathan Huberdeau for first. With a lasting impact on this team. Barkov’s off-ice habits are just as contagious as the on-ice ones, whether shooting hundreds of shots after a game or lifting weights at 11 p.m. after a day full of practice and team workouts.
Even his work in the community is beyond admirable. For every goal “Sasha” Barkov scores during the season, he donates 1600 dollars to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation, which runs out of South Florida. While Joe DiMaggio’s is a top-notch foundation, there is no such thing as too much help. During the COVID-19 riddled 2019-20 season, Barkov donated 32,000 dollars to Joe DiMaggio’s. This season, Barkov went above and beyond that. Not only did he continue the $1600 per goal, but he also added 800 dollars per assist. He also provided a suite at each Panther home game for use by those connected to the children’s hospital. Only counting his points, Barkov will be donating over 70,000 dollars to the foundation. That’s not including the cost of the suite for all those home games. Now it is time for him to bring home the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
Jonathan Huberdeau’s Underrated Role
Only one player who has done more for the organization, besides Roberto Luongo, would be Huberdeau. While he is not the captain, Huberdeau has been the cornerstone of this franchise. Originally drafted back in 2011, Huberdeau left his mark on the organization within his first year. Claiming the 2013 Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year, Huberdeau just beat out Brendan Gallagher for the award.
Fast forward some, and Huberdeau is coming off his back-to-back seasons of leading the Florida Panthers in points. He tied Mark Stone for 11th in the league in points with 61. This may come as a surprise, or may be unexpected, Huberdeau has been silently dominating for years now as the franchise leader in assists and points. Jonathan Huberdeau has been the face of the franchise yet never gets the credit he deserves. From his insane spin-o-Rama, behind the back passes to his elegant yet straightforward dekes that split defenders. It is only a matter of when and not if we see number 11 in the rafters right next to number one.