MIAMI ( – When the Florida Panthers chose Jonathan Huberdeau with the third pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, some didn’t know when he’d join the main squad. Based on early performances, it looks like Huberdeau may be in Sunrise sooner, rather than later.

“He’s a special player, can play any forward position,’’ Panthers general manager Dale Tallon told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. “He is unselfish and makes other players better. He’s responsible defensively and competes each shift. He never takes one off.”

Huberdeau scored a goal in the second period of his rookie league game against the Tamp Bay Lightning Sunday and though the Panthers want the young star to become physically stronger, his ability may push him to the main roster.

According to the Herald, the Panthers can sign Huberdeau to an entry-level contract and he could make the team and get a nine-game regular season tryout. If the Panthers like Huberdeau at that point, he could stick for the rest of the season.

If not, Huberdeau would go back to his junior team in Quebec for another year preparing for the main roster. Huberdeau is only 171 pounds, so his body needs time to develop. Still, the Panthers need to put fans in the stands and while they won’t rush him, they do need him to play at the latest by next year.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)


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