Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau wasn’t a complete unknown going into the 2013 campaign, but it was also fair to say that it was hard to put high expectations on him as a rookie.
After recording 31 points in the shortened season en route to winning the Calder Trophy, things will be different in 2013-14.
“We’re going to rely on him heavily,” Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell told the Sun Sentinel. “Instead of last year coming in and not knowing what to expect. We truly need him to be a force for our team.”
That might seem unfair, but the Panthers are a young team that’s tired of losing. Making the playoffs will be an uphill battle for them and their odds will be far worse if Huberdeau deals with a sophomore slump.
Avoiding that regression will be easier said than done. The last four Calder Trophy winners, from Steve Mason to Gabriel Landeskog, have regressed in their second season, albeit sometimes due to injury. Of course, just because that’s been the trend doesn’t mean that Huberdeau is any more or less likely to struggle in 2013-14, but it does highlight that one good season doesn’t make Huberdeau a safe bet going forward.
The 20-year-old’s position is particularly unique because he still needs to prove that he can withstand the rigors of an 82-game NHL campaign. At the same time, there are reasons to believe in Huberdeau, especially when you consider that he entered the shortened season with a hip injury sustained during the World Junior Championships and proceeded to play through it.
“He’ll be stronger, fitter and pain-free,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said. “I expect bigger and better from him. He’ll have some hiccups as well over 82 games. Even veteran players have hiccups, ups and downs in an 82-game season.”
For his part Huberdeau wants to improve “in every way” and after months of getting ready to do just that, the Panthers’ campaign will start next week.
One of the more unique blueliners in recent memory is hanging up his skates.
Douglas Murray, the big-bodied Swedish rearguard that appeared in over 500 NHL contests, has decided to retire.
“Thirty general managers do not want me,” Murray told Alftonbladet (translation per Yahoo). “I know that I can still play, but it’s over now.”
Murray, 36, is best remembered for his time in San Jose, where he used his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame to become one of the hardest hitters in the league.
His best years came between 2009-11, when he helped the Sharks advance to a pair of Western Conference Finals, and represented Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Murray also spent time with Pittsburgh and Montreal, before joining German League side Kolner Haie in ’14-15. He also had a brief stint with the Calgary Flames, though things never progressed beyond the professional tryout stage.
As mentioned above, Murray was a pretty interesting guy. A late bloomer, he was 25 upon making his NHL debut but quickly endeared himself to Shark fans.
Ivy-league educated, Murray and friends also created a beer dispensing system called the UberTap while at Cornell University.
A few years ago, Murray was rumored to be dating Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of Tiger Woods. Murray later shot down the reports, saying he and Nordegren were just friends.
Pressure’s on, Louis Domingue.
Domingue, now Arizona’s No. 1 goalie with Mike Smith (lower body) shelved indefinitely, will get another chance to prove himself when the Coyotes visit the Isles at Barclays on Friday night.
Things haven’t gone great for Domingue thus far.
Since coming on in relief of Smith in Ottawa, the 24-year-old has allowed seven goals on 30 shots in just over 36 minutes of action — leaving him with a ghastly .767 save percentage and 11.35 GAA.
(Not a typo. Eleven. Point. Three. Five.)
“He’s gotta play better,” coach Dave Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic. “He’s gotta play better than these two games he’s played. We’ll give him another opportunity, and hopefully he responds.”
The Coyotes haven’t provided a health update on Smith, who was flown back to Arizona earlier this week to be examined by team doctors. Justin Peters was recalled from the minors to serve as Domingue’s backup and looked sharp in relief of Domingue last night in Montreal, stopping 23 of 24 shots faced.
As such, Domingue has plenty on the line tonight. Peters is a 30-year-old veteran with over 80 games of NHL experience, so the Coyotes could turn to him if Domingue struggle yet again.
For the Isles, Jaroslav Halak gets the call in goal.
— Corey Crawford starts yet again for the Blackhawks, who are in Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in the opposing goal.
— Pekka Rinne, sporting a 2.04 GAA and .934 save percentage thus far, gets the nod as the Preds head to Detroit. Petr Mrazek will be in goal for the Red Wings, after Jimmy Howard played well in a Wednesday win over the Rangers.
It seems Brian Campbell won’t be a healthy scratch, after all. According to the Chicago Tribune, the veteran Blackhawks defenseman is likely to be in the lineup tonight in Columbus.
It had previously been reported that Campbell would sit against the Blue Jackets, making way for the return of Trevor van Riemdsyk. Instead, the Tribune believes van Riemsdyk will replace either Michal Kempny or Gustav Forsling, though it’s also possible the ‘Hawks could dress seven defensemen.
As for winger Marian Hossa, he will definitely not play tonight due to a lower-body injury suffered Tuesday against the Flyers, the same game in which he scored his 500th career goal. Hossa is also questionable for Saturday’s home game against Toronto.
At this morning’s skate, Jonathan Toews was centering Tyler Motte and Richard Panik, with Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, and Patrick Kane sticking together on the second line.
Here’s Coach Q’s scrum from yesterday:
With his 20-game suspension finally set to end, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jarred Tinordi has reportedly been placed on waivers.
Tinordi, 24, was suspended late last season for violating terms of the NHL’s performance-enhancing substances agreement. He said he “did not knowingly take a banned substance,” but accepted the ban and vowed to “work hard towards my return to the ice.” After he misses tonight’s game in Brooklyn, he’ll have served 20 games.
A former first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Tinordi has spent most of his pro career in the AHL, though he does have 54 games of NHL experience. The big blue-liner was traded to Arizona in January, part of a controversial three-team swap that saw John Scott, the All-Star, sent to the Habs.
Tinordi played seven unremarkable games for the Coyotes before he was suspended. He’ll presumably be assigned to their AHL affiliate in Tucson should he clear waivers.
Related: NHL has ‘no reason to believe…the Canadiens acted inappropriately’ in Tinordi trade