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Huberdeau: 'Hard to see' Panthers win Cup


While Jonathan Huberdeau says he's happy for his former teammates, the Calgary Flames forward admits that it was difficult watching the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.

The 31-year-old Saint-Jerome, Que. native was traded to the Flames from the Panthers in the 2022 offseason after 10 seasons with the team that originally took him with the third overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

"It’s hard to see the guys lift the Cup," Huberdeau told La Presse's Guillaume Lefrancois at his annual golf tournament on Monday. "You say to yourself, 'I was there for 10 years, during more difficult times.' But that’s how you build a team. When you're young, you don't care, you just want to build your career. Now I'm back in that situation, but a little older."

Still, Huberdeau says he appreciates the accomplishment of his former teammates.

“I'm happy for the guys, they worked hard," Huberdeau said. "[Aleksander] Barkov, I've been with him for years, he works so hard. Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett too."

Traded to the Flames along with defenceman Mackenzie Weegar, Huberdeau acknowledges that the player they were dealt for has been impactful in the Panthers' success - Matthew Tkachuk.

“Tkachuk arrived, and yes, he is good,” Huberdeau said. "But he is well surrounded. They have talent, you see it. Bill Zito was good at getting guys like [defencemen Oliver] Ekman-Larsson and [Dmitry] Kulikov, who were doing less well elsewhere. And a good coach like Paul Maurice, it seems. I thought they were going to win."

Entering into the second season of an eight-year, $84 million deal, Huberdeau says he understands what's expected of him even. After a 112-point season during his final year with the Panthers, Huberdeau has notched 55 and 52 points, respectively, in his first two seasons in Alberta. He says he has to play better.

“It’s certain that I’m hard to trade," Hubderdeau said of his deal. "I knew it when I signed the contract, but I didn't know how it was going to happen. I thought I was going to produce points, that it would be good, but the more defensive system of play didn't help. “The contract, I know I’m worth that. Several factors didn't help me, and it's up to me to get through it."

Having lost the likes of Jacob Markstrom and Andrew Mangiapane this offseason and Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov in midseason trades, Huberdeau says he understands that this Flames team is in flux, but warns not to count them out.

"We can get into the playoffs, even if everyone sees us as the underdogs," Huberdeau said. "But it’s never fun to be in [rebuilding]. When you are young, you can learn, gain maturity, you have time. But at 31, you want to win and you want to win [now]. It's harder to swallow, but you have to accept your role 100 per cent."