Jonathan Huberdeau can play centre or wing and he’s billed by amateur scouts as being a mix of grit and skill. He’s also been hotter than a 3$ pistol with the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL playoffs. Think the Edmonton Oilers might want and need a player like that?
The question is, does Huberdeau grade out and project as a prospect worthy of the No. 1 pick at the NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota June 24-25? Can Huberdeau make a case for being the top pick with a strong playoff performance in the same way Taylor Hall cemented his place as the top dog a year ago?
I talked with Edmonton’s chief scout Stu MacGregor about Huberdeau and got his assessment of the Saint John forward. I’ve added items and comments from Central Scouting Service, courtesy of NHL.com, although there are other scouting services, such as ISS, that can be referenced for more rankings and comments on Huberdeau.
I did likewise for Gabriel Landeskog Wednesday and will do the same for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier, the top-rated remaining North American skaters, as well as Adam Larsson, the top-rated skater among European players, in coming days.
THE SKINNY FROM CSS
North American Skater
Saint John, QMJHL
Final Rank: 3 Midterm Rank: 4
Position: Center Shoots: Left
Height: 6′ 1" Weight: 170
Born: June 4, 1993 Hometown: Laval, QC
Born in: Saint-Jerome, QC, CAN
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau
"He’s the type of player who can change the outcome of a game suddenly and quickly. He has displayed unbelievably quick hands and an ability to set up and score goals. He definitely has NHL hands and playmaking ability . . . he’s also gritty and does not back down when challenged."
— Huberdeau helped Saint John to a first round playoff sweep of Cape Breton, recording five goals and 12 points (5-7-12) in four games. During the regular season, the Sea Dogs tied the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record for most wins in a season with 58 and went undefeated at home in regulation (32-0-1-1) to enter the 2011 playoffs as the top-seeded team in the QMJHL.
— In 2010-11, he finished third in the QMJHL with 105 points (43-62–105) in 67 games and set new single-season club records for Saint John in points and assists. His plus-59 rating ranked first in the league.
Scouting Report: "He’s got hockey sense, skill and vision."
Projection: "A very solid second-line player. It depends where he plays. He plays wing now, but he played centre when he first came into the league. What will he be in the NHL? He could be a centre."
Best Case Scenario: "He could be a first-line player."
Concerns: "He’s only 170 pounds. He needs to get stronger to be able to take his game forward and be able to play in the areas that he likes to play in, which is in and around the net."
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.