By Shawn Spatz
Florida Panthers Writer
Jonathan Huberdeau, fresh off a six-year extension with the Panthers, suffered a leg injury last night in West Point that will knock him out of action until at least January. This is a huge blow to a team that has also lost Nick Bjugstad to a broken hand for the first few weeks of the season.
It will be hard to replace the 59 points that Huberdeau had last season, good for 3rd on the team behind Jussi Jokinen and Jaromir Jagr. Possible replacements on the Panthers’ top line include team newcomers Jonathan Marchessault, who signed on in July for two years after showing flashes in Tampa Bay, and Jared McCann, who came over from Vancouver in the Erik Gudbranson trade. In addition, one of those two will have to see time on the power play. Marchassualt saw time last night on both the power play and first line after Huberdeau’s exit, notching two points in Florida’s preseason finale. Florida will most likely not want to break up the line of Jokinen, Vincent Trocheck, and Reilly Smith, who enjoyed success last year as a solid unit. Either way, it is a tough break for a young team trying to get back into the playoffs.