Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau wins NHL’s top rookie award

After a season short on good tidings, the Florida Panthers got a bit of good news Saturday, when center Jonathan Huberdeau was awarded Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the NHL’s top rookie.

Huberdeau, a rookie from Saint-Jerome, Quebec, Canada, was second on the Panthers with 14 goals and 31 points in the lockout-shortened 48-game regular season.

“It was a surprise,” Huberdeau said in a release. “I didn’t know I was going to win it.”

He is the first Florida player to win the Rookie of the Year award. His 31 points were tied for the most by a rookie this season and finished third among first-year players in goals and tied for fourth with 17 assists.

“The entire Florida Panthers organization is very proud of Jonathan and we commend him on earning this very special honor,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a release. “He is a young, skilled and dynamic player who handled himself with both class and professionalism throughout his exceptional rookie season. Jonathan is hard working and dedicated player who is an important part of our young nucleus of talent that will be counted upon to lead our organization to future success.”

Huberdeau, who turned 20 on June 4, started off his first NHL season with a bang, netting a goal and picking up two assists as the Panthers won their opener 5-1 at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. He had three multi-goal games and seven games with two or more points this season for the Panthers, who finished with a NHL-low 36 points.

Huberdeau was the third overall pick from the 2011 draft and edged second-place finisher Brendan Gallagher of the Canadiens and Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks for the trophy.

“There’s two other guys and there was a lot of good rookies this year,” Huberdeau said in a release. “Gallagher had a great season as well as Saad too and it’s still going for him. I wasn’t expecting anything and I’m glad that I won it.”