Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Jonathan Huberdeau: Two Autographed Cards

There were rumblings around the trade deadline that the Florida Panthers were shopping young star forward Jonathan Huberdeau, the third overall pick of the 2011 draft. That was just an invention from TSN's Frank Seravalli, based on nothing but the Cats' interest in the Columbus Blue Jackets' twin free agents-to-be, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, whom they could add to their roster this summer without giving away any assets whatsoever, let alone a point-per-game responsible two-way forward who is just still 25 years old.

Indeed, Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov have been the two locomotives running the Panthers' offense for the past few years and no GM in their right mind would even consider making a trade like that, let alone Dale Tallon, who is now in his second patient rebuild of the team he constructed into a division champion three years ago only to see his successor Tom Rowe destroy it in a single summer.

Huberdeau has not let himself be bothered by such rumours and currently stands at 22 goals, 52 assists and 74 points in 69 games and was just named the NHL's First Star Of The Week with 9 points in 4 games.

The 2012-13 Calder Trophy winner now sports an "A" on his jersey, demonstrating how important he is to the team's young leadership core, with captain Barkov, defenseman Aaron Ekblad (still just 22!), Vincent Trocheck and Frank Vatrano, as well as veterans Roberto Luongo, Evegeny Dadonov and Keith Yandle, not to mention a certain Mike Hoffman, if he can keep out of trouble.

Of course, Luongo's nearing retirement (or a buyout, which would actually affect the Vancouver Canucks, not Florida), and I don't see a goalie in the system ready to pick up the mantle, so the Bobrovsky rumours may very well be founded - and all teams should be going after Panarin, possibly the best in-his-prime impactful free agent of all time, on par with Steven Stamkos a few years back and ahead of John Tavares last summer. But those two need to be added to a roster that includes Huberdeau, Barkov and Trocheck, not replace any of them.

Huberdeau was in Montréal in January, signing two cards for me in blue sharpie (with his number, 11, tagged at the end); first, showing him in the team's best-looking red uniform ever (with the team's 20th anniversary patch on the chest) is card #198 from Upper Deck's 2014-15 O-Pee-Chee set:
There is also the matching white (away) uniform from the same era, from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Series 2 set (card #337 in the series):
In terms of white uniforms, I would classify this one as tied for second with the current one, but I preferred the team's original digs. There was something about that design with the horizontal arm stripes that just worked well in white.

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