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After an impressive Memorial Cup showing, Sea Dogs center Jonathan Huberdeau was awarded an additional trophy to the Memorial Cup: the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy, given to the tournament MVP.
If it wasn’t certain he’d win it before the final game was played, Huberdeau solidified his case for MVP with his spectacular third period goal. The tally put the Sea Dogs up 3-1 with only a few minutes left in the third period, and ensured the win for the Sea Dogs.
“It's great,” said Huberdeau of the MVP honor. “But winning the Memorial Cup is the most important thing. This is the cherry on the cake.”
With the extra hardware in hand, he may be drafted even sooner than projected. Central Scouting final rankings has him at No. 3 among North American skaters, and the Hockey News puts him at No. 5 overall.
Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant acknowledges that Huberdeau is not the fastest player on the team, but his hands make up for whatever he lacks in speed. “I'd certainly label him the craftiest on our team,” Gallant has said, a skill that may account for his 105 points in the regular season.
Gallant also credits Huberdeau’s extraordinary vision. Linemate Zack Phillips said that Huberdeau’s goal couldn’t have even happened without Huberdeau’s ability to read the play.
Gallant says he is comfortable putting Huberdeau on the ice in any situation, as he has the ability to be a difference-maker, even at his young age.
“A lot of the teams are older than us and are stronger and more physical, but I thought when he had his chance to make his plays, he made great plays,” Gallant said after the Memorial Cup win. “For a 17-year-old to be an offensive leader on your hockey club. He just makes the right plays at the right time.”
Before getting to the NHL, the 6’1” 170 lb. forward has to bulk up, but in terms of skill, he’s nearly there. Watching her son face the media after the win, Huberdeau’s mother, Josee Blondin-Huberdeau, said that even when her son reaches the NHL, he will continue to work hard to develop as a player.
“He knows that even if he gets there, he has to work even harder to reach that,” she said. “He's not finished when he arrives there.”
Photo credit: National Post
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