The Florida Panthers may begin the season without Jonathan Huberdeau as the left wing exited the team’s preseason finale against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday in the first period with a left leg injury.
Huberdeau was tangled up with Sergey Kalinin behind New Jersey’s net when the Devils forward’s right skate came down on the back of his ankle. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice and did not return.
Florida, which came away with a 4-2 victory as it scored four straight goals after falling behind three minutes into the contest, already will be missing a regular forward when it hosts New Jersey in its season opener on Thursday. Center Nick Bjugstad is expected to miss four weeks of action with a broken hand he sustained earlier in the preseason.
Huberdeau is coming off the best offensive season of his four-year career as he scored a personal-best 20 goals and matched his high of 39 assists in 76 games. The 23-year-old made his debut in 2012-13, registering 14 tallies and 31 points in 48 contests en route to the Calder Trophy after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Huberdeau took a step backward in his sophomore season, recording only nine goals in 69 games. But he bounced back in 2014-15 with 15 tallies and 39 assists in 79 contests.
A native of Quebec, Huberdeau has collected 58 goals and 114 assists in 272 career games. He also notched a tally and two assists during the Panthers’ six-game loss to the New York Islanders in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Huberdeau, who signed a new six-year contract worth $35.4 million on September 6, helped Canada capture the bronze medal at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship by recording a goal and eight assists in six games. He also represented his country at the event a year later, as well as the 2014 World Championship.