Jonathan Huberdeau has yet to live up to the hype surrounding him heading into the 2022-23 season. He has one goal and four assists in his first eight games as a Calgary Flame. Good for a 10 goal, 41 assist pace over 82 games.
Both Darryl Sutter and Huberdeau know that he needs to step his game up in the near future. “I think Jonathan has to speed his game up, that’s for sure,” Sutter told reporters after the Flames’ Tuesday night loss to the Kraken.
Even Huberdeau himself has admitted that it is time for him to get going. “Obviously, I’m not creating nothing out there, so I have to start doing that. That’s why they brought me here. I’m an offensive guy and I have to play in their zone. I think I’m kind of running after the puck and turning over the puck.
I think it’s an adjustment, but I have to be better and that’s what I’ll do.”
#Flames LW Jonathan Huberdeau with a critique of his own play so far this season: “I still have a lot of work to do. Obviously it hasn’t been easy for me at the beginning of the year. I’m way better than what I am right now.”
It takes some players time to adjust to a new team. Huberdeau is playing in a drastically different defensive system, playing for a demanding head coach, playing on a line with right shots (Huberdeau has been used to playing with left shooters in Florida) and getting used to playing in a new city which is the complete opposite from where he came from in Sunrise, Florida.
That is a lot of change to deal with in a short amount of time. With all those factors in mind, we should give Huberdeau plenty of time to get his game back to the level we have come to expect from him. I would say give Huberdeau another 20-30 games to get back to his old form.
Even though we should give him some time, there are some parts of his game we can be critical of.
The one aspect of his play that I would like to see him improve upon immediately is his shooting and scoring chance generation.
Huberdeau has not been a dangerous, dual threat player when he’s on the ice because he has been playing with not only a pass first, but a pass only mentality. It seems like has been making a decisive decision to not shoot the puck. The reason this is an issue is because Huberdeau isn’t just a great passer, he is also a very good goal scorer. And the Flames need him to score goals due to the lack of scoring depth in the forward group.
Over Huberdeau’s last five seasons, he has scored at nearly a 30-goal pace over an 82-game pace. It’s clear that Huberdeau is a high-end goal scorer, and he needs to start to take advantage of that skill set.
82 Game Goal Pace
Huberdeau is not close to scoring at the 30ish goal pace that we have accustomed to seeing from him. The big reason for that is that he is not shooting the puck enough.
Huberdeau (5 on 5)
(Huberdeau shot metrics at 5 on 5 and ranking among his teammates)
Huberdeau (All Situations)
(Huberdeau shot metrics in all situations and ranking among his teammates)
These numbers simply aren’t good enough for someone who can score goals the way Huberdeau can. Huberdeau needs to be near the top of the Flames lineup in these shot metrics. We all know he is a pass first player, and that’s great to a certain extent. But he will need to get a little more selfish with the puck and take more shots if the Flames want to get the most out of their star left winger.
Overall, Huberdeau should get his game back to the elite level we all know and love in the near future. But let’s be patient as he is still get used to this massive change in his life. Sometimes it takes people a while to get used to their new surroundings. Huberdeau should also help himself and his team by shooting the puck more and being more of a dual threat offensively.
Ryan Pike and Shane Stevenson (whose hair game is on point) had a great discussion on Huberdeau on the latest episode of FlamesNation Radio. Be sure to give that a listen after reading this article.