Jonathan Huberdeau

Back to juniors: Panthers top pick Jonathan Huberdeau sent to Saint John

While we’re going to see guys like first round pick Mark Scheifele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get their shot to breakout with their respective teams this year, one guy we won’t be seeing in the NHL until at least next season is Jonathan Huberdeau.

The Panthers have decided to not get Huberdeau signed to his entry-level deal and give him the nine game preview treatment and will instead send him back to junior hockey with Saint John in the QMJHL.

Huberdeau’s selection in June at the draft coupled with Tallon’s big spending ways generated a ton of buzz for the Panthers this summer, but without Huberdeau it’s a bit of a buzzkill. That said, Huberdeau’s development comes first and if he’s not ready for primetime it’s best to send him back to juniors.

All youth is not lost in Florida, however, as last year’s first round pick, Erik Gudbranson, will start the year with the Panthers along the blue line. Gudbranson looked solid in camp last year but he and the Panthers couldn’t agree on a contract before the start of the season and he went back to juniors. Now Gudbranson is signed up and locked in and will be in the lineup on opening night. Given what the Panthers have going with their forwards and defensemen respectively, keeping a big defenseman around is a more pressing need than another forward.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.