Jonathan Huberdeau, C/LW Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Born: June 4, 1993 in St-Jerome, Quebec
Strengths: Good height with long arms and reach. Very good skater; rangy player with smooth, loping stride. Not all that explosive or possessing of elite speed, but can get from point A to point B effectively and has good shiftiness in open ice. Excellent hands; can stickhandle in traffic or dangle, using his long stick to maintain distance between the puck and would-be checkers. Soft touch for pinpoint passes. Gives and receives passes well. Heavy snap shot that he can get off very quickly. Accurate shooter who can elevate the puck in close or keep his bullet drives low to the corners when goaltenders give him an opening. Loves to score and looks great doing it. High-end offensive instincts; always around the puck and a deal-closer when the play is in tight to the net. One of the most creative players in the class; sees the ice extremely well and anticipates the unfolding play, knowing where his teammates will be and finding them with the puck. A good teammate; has a lot of flash to his game, but fits in well with the group dynamic because he isn't selfish nor does he put his own importance higher than others. Protects the puck and will go into the dirty areas. Versatile; can play center or wing. An asset more on the power play now, but has penalty killing potential at the highest level if he develops his positional awareness/play away from puck. Character kid who works hard and is a leader. Already speaks English passably, so will have no cultural challenges when he makes the jump to pro hockey. Memorial Cup MVP after a dominating performance in the QMJHL playoffs.
Weaknesses:Extremely slight frame; lacks in physical maturity and will require significant conditioning and added mass to set himself up for the rigors of the next level. Although willing to do the dirty work along boards and down low, often gets overpowered because he lacks the functional upper- and lower-body strength that should come to him in time. High center of gravity makes him susceptible to being knocked off stride. Defense is a work in progress; play without the puck needs to improve. Not an overly physical player or fighter, but that is not a knock-- he simply plays a skill game and doesn't concern himself with things like fighting (though he will do it as the YanthaCanada highlight video below can attest)
Huberdeau highlight film from You Tube (Alex20Wild)
Another highlight film of Huberdeau in action (YanthaCanada)
Jonathan Huberdeau combine video (B2011DW video)
Style compares to: Jeff Carter
Draft prediction: Anytime you lead your team to a Memorial Cup championship, you're going to be in demand, but Huberdeau lifted his stock all year with a consistent, productive showing in the 'Q'. He's a top-three pick, especially if the rumors linking him to Florida are true. Even though we rank him just outside the top-three, it's simply because we have Gabriel Landeskog rated ahead of him, where many lists do not. Huberdeau is a slam-dunk in the top-five and will very likely be gone even earlier.
Projection: First-line center or wing with 40-goal, 90-point upside. Huberdeau has all the offensive tools you look for, plus nice intangibles like work ethic and an honest desire to round out his game and get better defensively. He was a very good penalty killer in his rookie QMJHL season, so Huberdeau has proven his versatility to go along with the offensive explosion this season. He has all the makings of an NHL star and longtime, franchise-stabilizing fan favorite.
Background:18th overall selection (R1) of Saint John in 2009 Midget Draft out of the Saint Eustache Vikings. Set a team record for rookie playoff goals last season with 11 en route to the QMJHL finals (Saint John fell to Moncton). Won a gold medal with Team Canada at the August Ivan Hlinka Tourney. Named assistant captain for Team Orr in the 2011 CHL Top Prospects Game played in Toronto. Finished third in league scoring with 43 goals and 105 points. Ranked #3 among North American skaters on Central Scouting's final list. Favorite NHL team: Montreal Canadiens Favorite NHL players: Jordan Staal, Mike Ribeiro
If Huberdeau had his own soundtrack it would be: "Becoming the Bull"- Atreyu
"The Chauffeur"- Deftones
“He's the type of player who can change the outcome of a game suddenly and quickly. He's displayed unbelievably quick hands and an ability to set up and score goals. He definitely has NHL hands and playmaking ability . . . he's also gritty and does not back down when challenged.”- Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau to NHL.com
"The biggest surprise for me this year with Huberdeau is the goal scoring. I knew he was an excellent passer from seeing him last year, but I didn't see how aggressive he was going to be at taking the puck to the net and finishing off the play. He put a lot of work into his shot, and he's playing with a lot of confidence. The puck is going in a lot for him, and I don't see that it's a fluke. He's got some real upside."- Quebec-based NHL scout for Western Conference Team
"Without the work of this fluid, imaginative playmaker, there's no way (Zack) Phillips would be second in the Q in goals scored."- Red Line Report, December 2010
"Showed really soft hands on his rebound goal tight near crease. Beautiful look and cross-ice feed to set up one glorious PP chance. All-around impressive game. Made some instinctive plays at both ends. Stood up for himself and whacked a few guys with his stick. Lots of upside."- Red Line Report, February 2010 (CHL Top Prospects Game review)
Huberdeau skating to the top of 2011 Draft rankings by Mike G, Morreale, NHL.com
Huberdeau making charge at top spot by Mike Ulmer from Mapleleafs.com