It’s the summer of 22, and Jonathan Huberdeau is coming off a career year for the Florida Panthers. Huberdeau finished the 21-22 campaign with a career-high 115 points. This blistering pace saw him trail only Connor McDavid in that regard. His 85 assists also broke an assist record for left-wingers, cementing him as one of the game’s premier set-up men. Then on July 22, the Panthers and Flames completed an absolute blockbuster out of nowhere. Huberdeau and defenseman Mackenzie Weegar were shipped to Calgary in exchange for another star left winger in Matthew Tkachuk.
Fast forward to the 2022-23 season and Huberdeau has seen a monumental decline in his play. Huberdeau currently only has 47 points in 68 games this season; a pace that doesn’t even amount to 60 points. A far cry from his 115-point campaign last season no doubt. This lack of production has Flames fans worried as the team just inked Huberdeau to an 8-year $84 million mega-deal last offseason. So what’s the source behind Huberdeau’s unprecedented decline? And should Flames fans be worried for their Franchise player?
Analysis of Jonathan Huberdeau’s Decline
Often times a player’s struggle can simply be attributed to adjusting to a new city. We’ve seen plenty of instances where a player struggles early on in a new city and requires an adjustment period before returning to form. The trade marks the first time in Huberdeau’s career that he was traded. Anytime a player is traded, it is accompanied by the initial shock before shifting to the reality of having to move their lives to another city. In his case, Jonathan Huberdeau has to adjust to not only a new city but a new country entirely. Not to mention the vastly different climates of Calgary and Florida. All these adjustments may be hard for him to adjust to immediately. Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.
Another major reason for Huberdeau’s immediate decline may be the new system he is playing under. Darryls Sutter’s often defensive-minded style of play is what saw Calgary have much of their success from last year. This system is a big reason for Jacob Markstroms immense success last year as well. But it is a very different style of play than that of the high-flying 2021-22 Panthers. A system that saw them ice the most productive offense in the NHL last year on their way to the President’s Trophy. Such a drastic Shift in the style of play isn’t always easy for a player to adjust to. Especially an offensively gifted player of Huberdeaus caliber. The team’s weak powerplay which sits at 22nd in the league, has him missing out on a lot of points he would have been scoring on Florida’s much better powerplay unit.
Lack of Chemistry
The final reason for Jonathan Huberdeau’s poor season is his lack of chemistry with new teammates. Huberdeau hasn’t been able to find any consistent chemistry with anybody on the Flames roster. This lack of chemistry has forced Sutter to constantly juggle his lines in search of chemistry for Huberdeau. This has even seen him on the 3rd line at points this year. Adjusting to new linemates isn’t always easy and the Flames don’t have the offensive firepower that Florida had at their disposal. This is no diss on Nazem Kadri, Tyler Toffoli, or Elias Lindholm as they are all fine forwards. However, Calgary doesn’t have an elite centerman like Aleksander Barkov, or an elite sniper like Carter Verhaeghe on their squad.
Jonathan Huberdeaus’s season has many Flames fans worried for the future, especially with the team sitting outside a playoff position currently. However, the city of Calgary needs to collectively take a deep breath. Huberdeau has had a lot of aforementioned factors to deal with this year. The offseason and time to adjust to the city may be just what the star winger needs to return to elite form. Huberdeau is far too talented to just have his career production fall off a cliff in the midst of his prime. Expect Jonathan Huberdeau to have a massive bounceback year next season. There’s no need to panic just yet Flames fans.
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