Calgary Flames forward Jonathan Huberdeau has to be ‘way better,’ says Jonathan Huberdeau
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike9 months ago
Friends, simply because of the mechanics of functionally swapping out dynamic scoring machine Johnny Gaudreau in free agency and adding puck distribution machine Jonathan Huberdeau via trade in the off-season, it’s natural to compare the contributions of the two players – points-wise and otherwise. Huberdeau’s modest contributions offensively have opened him up to criticisms, including from himself.
Speaking to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika as part of a feature on his transition season to Calgary, Huberdeau himself declared that he has to be “way better.”
After leading the NHL with 85 assists and tying for second with 115 points in 80 games last season, Huberdeau has 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 48 games this season, which is fifth on the Flames.“My game is different here, the way you’ve got to play,” he said. “I’ve got to be way better, and I’ve got to find a way to be way better. That’s the adjustment.“What do we have left, like,  games? At this point, [I want to have] a good end of the season, kind of build my confidence back.”
Huberdeau’s had a weird year. He dealt with the emotion of the trade, which was a big surprise to a player that thought he would soon start negotiations with Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito on a new contract. Instead he got traded.
Then he signed an eight-year contract extension – the biggest deal, dollar-wise, in Flames franchise history – before he had even arrived in town. Then he dealt with some injuries that hampered his play and stalled his transition to Darryl Sutter’s system. He bounced around the lineup. He missed a bit of time.
Recently Huberdeau’s found a good fit on the de facto second line alongside fellow newcomer Nazem Kadri and a rotation of wingers, most recently fellow Quebecois forward (and NHL rookie) Jakob Pelletier. Huberdeau’s play has improved, but his offensive numbers still haven’t jumped off the page the way they did in previous seasons in Florida.
In the feature, Cotsonika points out a big change between Florida and Calgary: culture.
There was a culture shock on and off the ice.Huberdeau went from a wide-open offensive team that led the NHL in goals (337) last season to a structured team that allowed the third-fewest goals (206). He also went from a warm, laid-back market to a cold, intense one.“Polar opposites,” said Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ben Chiarot, who finished last season with the Panthers after three seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and five with the Winnipeg Jets.
Check out the full piece on NHL.com.
The Flames have 31 games left in their regular season. They’re back in action on Thursday evening in Detroit against the Red Wings.
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