Panthers sign Huberdeau to 2-year deal, avoid holdout

Forward Jonathan Huberdeau led the Panthers with 54 points last season.

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Jonathan Huberdeau’s holdout ended before it started, and the Florida Panthers’ leading scorer from last season is back just in time for training camp.

The Panthers signed Huberdeau to a two-year, $6.5 million deal Thursday, one day before the team’s first on-ice session of camp. The deal was announced in the morning and Huberdeau — a left wing who was working out in Montreal to get ready for the season — was in South Florida by mid-afternoon to complete his physical and get things finalized.

"Fantastic," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "I’m real happy for Huby and real happy for our team. It’s good to have everything settled. Sometimes it takes longer than others but I was confident we’d get it done. It was just a matter of time. You get no extra points for doing it sooner or later, but the good news is he’s here and he’ll be ready to go."

Tallon said the Panthers and Huberdeau discussed a number of options, including, one-, three- and six-year deals. The Miami Herald first reported that the deal was struck.

"Happy to be back for at least 2 more years," Huberdeau tweeted Thursday afternoon. "Contract done, time to play hockey."

Huberdeau led the Panthers with 54 points last season, and finished on a tear after joining a line with Aleksander Barkov and late-season acquisition Jaromir Jagr. In 58 games before Jagr arrived, Huberdeau had 33 points. In the 21 games after Jagr joined the Panthers, he had 21 points — 6 goals and 15 assists.

"I think he’s a point-a-game guy," Tallon said.

He was with Jagr around, and the sure-fire eventual Hall of Famer was thrilled to hear Huberdeau’s deal was complete. Huberdeau was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft, had 59 points in 117 games over his first two seasons in Florida and then started to break out last year.

"He can focus on the hockey now," Jagr said.

Tallon said the Panthers have 51 players in training camp — including forwards David Booth and Martin Havlat on tryout deals — and told them they’re competing for 23 spots.

"Do the math," Tallon said. "It’s going to be a competitive camp."