It’s been a very tumultuous season in Florida, and you can point to the Panthers losing Jonathan Huberdeau on the eve of the regular season as the incident that kicked everything off.
But now, some good news on that front. Huberdeau traveled with the team last week, and has returned to both the ice and the gym — significant steps in his recovery from a torn Achilles.
According to head coach Tom Rowe, everything is pointing towards a February return for the former Calder winner.
“He’s right on schedule, but he feels real good,” Rowe said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “The fact he could spend as much time in the weight room getting stronger and getting in better shape because of the injury is all good.
“He’s an elite level player and it will be good for us when he is back; it makes us a stronger, deeper team.”
Huberdeau, 23, is coming off a career-best 20 goals and 59 points last season, one in which he further developed chemistry with No. 1 linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr. Florida has spent much of the first two months of the season trying to fill Huberdeau’s spot on the top line, with mixed results, and it’s become clear the organization is both anxious and excited about the prospect of getting him back.
Given the timing, it will almost be like a deadline pickup for the Panthers (this season’s deadline is on Feb. 28).
Florida made a big investment in Huberdeau with his six-year, $35.4 million extension, which kicks in next season. So there’s no doubt the club is more than ready to see him back in action.