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HUBERDEAU WINS TOP ROOKIE AWARD: Jonathan Huberdeau's Calder Trophy first for Florida Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Jonathan Huberdeau's season started as good as it could get as the Panthers rookie scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot.

On Saturday, his season ended in fine fashion as well.

Huberdeau, the third pick of the 2011 draft, was given the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie for the 2013 season. Huberdeau became the Panthers' first winner of the award as he beat out Montreal's Brendan Gallagher and Chicago's Brandon Saad.

"It was a surprise. There were two other guys who had great rookie years,'' Huberdeau said from Chicago not long after accepting the award on the Hockey Night in Canada set at the Stanley Cup Finals.

"I wasn't expecting anything. I'm pretty happy.''

The vote was close as expected, with Huberdeau and Gallagher both receiving 54 first-place votes from the 179 members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association who voted.

Huberdeau, who tied all rookie scorers with 31 points and was second on the Panthers, ended up winning the award by 100 points.

Huberdeau set two franchise records, becoming the first Panther to
score on two penalty shots in one season (Feb. 21 at Philadelphia and March 5 vs. Carolina). Huberdeau's 31 points were most for a rookie in franchise history, edging out Radek Dvorak (1995-96).

"I think he's a great player,'' Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby said. "He's a great young player with a lot of skill. He seemed to adjust pretty quickly.''

The 2013 season was a long one for Huberdeau, one of four Florida players to play in all 48 games during the lockout-shortened campaign.

Huberdeau ended up playing a total of 84 games during 2012-13 -- 30 with his junior team in Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as six for Team Canada at World Juniors.

One of the first things Huberdeau bought once he got his first NHL paycheck was a new Ford Mustang convertible. Huberdeau knows exactly where his Calder Trophy can sit.

"For sure,'' he said. "I can put it in the back seat.''

Huberdeau opened his offseason by having hip surgery, a procedure he said will keep him off the ice for a few more weeks. Although Huberdeau said the injury wasn't anything major, it was serious enough to warrant surgery.

The Panthers expect Huberdeau to be fully healed for the start of training camp in September.

"The rehab is going well. I'm ahead of the process and am taking my time and doing it properly,'' Huberdeau said. "We knew it was something that was bothering me during the season, but I had it checked out more throughly at the end. I made the decision to have surgery because I'm young. The rehab would be easier now than later.''

HUBERDEAU WINS TOP ROOKIE AWARD: Jonathan Huberdeau's Calder Trophy first for Florida Panthers

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Congrats to Huberdeau! I remember when Panthers' Mark Parrish was up for the Calder and lost. Looking forward to next season. Hopefully there won't be another compressed schedule and they keep the NHL players out of the Olympics. Olympics is just as exciting with junior and college players.

Are you kidding me, NHL players need to be at the Olympics, so much better for the game. Can you imagine NBA players not playing at the summer games? NO. Same rule apply!

I watched the World Under 18 Championship and it was very exciting. The Olympic games will be on a 3 AM who is going to get up to watch a game at that time? And no one watches delayed games any more. A compressed NHL schedule means tired players, poor play and more injuries. I had enough of that last year. The play was third rate and not worth the money. I went to one game at the BB&T Center last season and the play was terrible that I would not pay to see that again. If they want me to pay to watch NHL hockey they need quality not tired, injured players playing every other night. The Olympics would be fine with junior and college players. The "Miracle on Ice" was exciting and wasn't NHL players. They get paid to play in the NHL not Olympic tournaments.

Congrats to Hubes!!! 12 goals in his first 25 games has been accomplished by (active players) Cindy, Malkin, OV, and Teemu...pretty good company indeed!!!

Hopefully we'll have back to back Calder winners with Hubes and MacKinnon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHOOO!!!!! Heck yeah! I knew you could do it Hubey!!

Wow! I let this slide off the radar. I knew he was nominated, but never checked on the awards, then got caught up in the Heat run that NHL left my head for a moment. Huge, man...huge!

(ahem...getting priorities straight...still the worst team in the league with the #2 pick for a reason...cough, cough)

Well, it's nice to be recognized at least. He did have a b*lls-out season with not much of a supporting cast around him. The dude that started with Tampa was rockin' it 'cause he was with Lacav and Stamkos then dropped off when he was traded to OTT and Gallagher and Staad had surges at the end. Hubey rocked it all season long at a high level...unheard of around here lately (fan since opening face-off). He definitely deserved it.

On the the draft!! Where either MacKinnon or Jones will be slam dunks. As a Portland, OR resident, I've been to quite a few Winterhawks games and his presence on the ice was felt every time, not only as an offensive weapon, but as a giant at being in position. He was heads above the competition, both physically and talent wise.

Then I watched all of the games of the Memorial Cup with the Winterhawks. They got beat only twice and both times were against MacKinnon. And holy crap, that kid just lit us up! Like nobody else! All season! Unbelievable, in fact. And Seth Jones rocked it against everyone else in the tourney and had great games, even though he was mostly paired against the top lines and always had a player on him.

Anyway, draft day should be fun, eh? Perhaps, like the Dolphins, the Panthers could be the off-season champs and land Lecav, too! Boo-yah!

Go Panthers!

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