FTHM IV: JONATHAN HUBERDEAU

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

Jonathan Huberdeau

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.

MACGREGOR’S TAKE

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.

  • Bucknuck

    I was voting on the plays of the year on the oilers website, and I was struck a few times at how it was Gagner’s hard work and hockey sense that made the goal being presented possible.

    I would like to see the Oiler keep a guy like Gagner. He has drive, and he works hard, and he wants to be here… and he just keeps getting better.

  • Clyde Frog

    Sam Gagner – #48 in centres scoring last season with 42 in only 68 games.

    Drawing on comparasin saying the top 30 should represent “1st” line producing centres, our little Sammy is smack dab in the middle of 2nd line production on the worst team in the league at 21.

    People who cry about him being soft or slow or anything else, please look at his production then look at the production afforded by 75% of the leagues second line centres and give your head a shake. The kid produces in line with the role we have given him.

    Is he a walk off home run? Not yet, but he is in the middle of the pack production wise and has quite a few more years to hone his skills.

    As for the assessments, I think we can see why things are so close right now. Although from the comments to date it definitely looks like they are given RNH the edge.

  • Pilgor09

    My feeling is the grit factor makes him a little more desirable than RNH. The Oilers have seen first hand what a team full of guys that don’t have grit and determination looks like and I don’t think they want to go back to that. Ideally in this draft, and I do hope they move possibly gags and cogs to move the LA pick up, that they draft a couple centers in the first round and then try to concentrate on D men in the second. I’m of the firm belief that you need to build from center out and I think there is enough evidence going around that it highly unlikely to get your top two centers in trades or free agency because everyone holds on to them and builds around them. And Vancouver could tell you that you can never have enough good defenseman in the works even if they take 3-6 years to get up to speed.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Robin, perhaps I’m ruining the surprise but now that it looks like you got Stu’s take on where he projects these guys in the show; where does he project RNH?

    Did I miss that in FTHM Part Deux?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Who knew hubby would make a name for himself? If a guy has lots of points and penalty minutes maybe size shouldn’t matter as much at 18?

    Just because a guy is big doesn’t mean he can do much about it. Cotourier is a big guy – but he’s slow and EXTREMELY soft (like penner).

    I’d take a 170lb hard nosed son of a b*#*ch over a 200 lb susan…

    gags is expendable because his puck control is WELL below average. Omark is smaller but good luck getting him off the puck. I’d keep Omark and bate Gagner by saying, “he’s only 21!” (as if that matters)

    • Ah yes, puck control. Omark might be a beast in the corners but it sure didnt help him accomplish a whole lot. How do Omark’s 5 goals clearly make him a better weapon than Gagner?

      He’s only 21, and he’s a better hockey player than Omark. Does that matter?

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        No doubt, I always love when guys want to keep someone because of 1-2 attributes regardless of what the players have actually accomplished.

        • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

          I think in this case age might be irrelevant. Gagner has had a fair bit more time developing in the NHL than Omark and I think its only fair to say that we can’t form any solid opinions. I do think however that with our current depth chart and possible prosepects coming into the organization that it is likely Gags, Cogs, and Brule are all expendable. At least that is they way I view it. I think there are a lot of other teams in the NHL that would benefit and would love to add these guys to their teams. I think they just need to be teamed up with accomplished Veterans and I don’t see that happening for them in Edmonton at this time.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “I do think however that with our current depth chart and possible prosepects coming into the organization that it is likely Gags, Cogs, and Brule are all expendable.”

            That statement is of madjaming levels for bizzarness.

            The fact that we have next to no center depth on the team and in the system is what makes Gagner (or at least should) a low probability candidate to be moved.

          • The way I see it, those 3 you mentioned are in DANGER of becoming expendable if/when the prospects pan out, and the order they will become expendable in is Brule, Cogliano, Gagner.

            Here’s my reasoning:

            Brule is wildly incosistent, not an Oiler draft pick, and mostly plays the wing (a position the Oilers are strongest at). Additionally he cant stay healthy at all.

            Cogliano is looking more and more like a 3-4 centre, but his faceoff prowess isnt good enough to be a real shutdown option as a Centre. He does though possess a tonne of speed, a little scoring pop, and plays 82 games a season.

            Gagner is the highest producing Centre on the team, points-wise, but he is only producing like a #2. He has pedigree and the Oilers have invested several years bringing the kid along in the NHL. He doesnt possess blinding speed or a bulking frame, but the team doesnt have another centre ready to carry the weight offensively.

            All three are in danger of one day very soon becoming expendable, but it requires a few entirely unproven players to establish themselves first.

            That’s my take on them.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Totally agree, the only reason I have Gagner on the list is because of the lack of support he gets. I’ve been a fan of his before he was even drafted but I think his game would really take off if he were with top notch Veteran guys. I think in Edmonton there is too much pressure already, and he is still young, to be the guy to look up to for others. I think that is too much to be expected of him right now and I think that is hurting his game. I think he has a lot more potential and could be a leader later in his career.

          • Sox and Oil

            ‘Gagner has had a fair bit more time developing in the NHL’

            If I try to grow tomatoes in the closet with the light off whose fault is it when I can’t make salsa?

            Gagner’s put up reasonable numbers playing in very unreasonable circumstances. So yes let’s trade him and other assets to draft a player that may take years to become as good a player as Sam.

          • Bucknuck

            why anyone would try to grow tomatoes in the closet with the lights off is beyond me…i say it is time to stop hidding these tomatoes from being who they can really are….let them come out of the closet already….and SALSA!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Dude,

        Didn’t you watch ANY of the world juniors? He was a softie that was scared to death of the corners!

        I don’t need a professional TSN analyst to tell me that.

        I guess you could say i have seen him good!

        • Sox and Oil

          SC’s world juniors numbers 7gp 2goals 1assist playing on the third line with very little if any pp time. Playing against the very best junior players in the world.

          What were RNH’s, Huberdeau’s and Strome’s numbers for that tournament?

      • Not a chance. Look at the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. They are ridiculously stacked. I think that’s the fear of Huberdeau, that his numbers are artificially juiced because he is playing on an all-star team pretty much. The question is, is he along for the ride or is he driving the bus? Judging from Macgregor’s comments, he doesn’t seem to be driving it often enough to warrant a first overall pick.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    6’2″ 205 within 2 yrs. 105 pts and almost as many penalty minutes to go with it.

    Wrap him up, i’ll take one of those Huberdeaus to go with the NuHo we already purchased please.