In a bit of a surprise move, Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers was sent back to the St. John Sea Dogs. This is probably a good move for Huberdeau, who despite scoring 105 points in the Q, needs to bulk up, and has admitted that he was taking a beating at the NHL preseason level. He joins his running mate from last year, Zack Phillips, Minnesota's second first round pick, who scored 95 points alongside him.
This is not a a good move for his development. Humor me and make it past the jump.
Leading up to the NHL Draft, the two major knocks on Phillips were his speed and the fact that he had Huberdeau. Huberdeau isn't going to affect Phillips as to his speed one way or the other, but what made this year such an interesting and exciting one for Phillips was the fact that while there is still talent on the Sea Dogs without Huberdeau, Phillips would have the opportunity to assert himself as the best player on the team. So far, he's had six points (2-4) over six games, which is the best points per game pace of the Ice Dogs' short season. With a year of experience under his belt, and the return of Huberdeau, that point per game total will likely go up.
However, it would be much more encouraging to see Phillips carry the load and prove he can do it without a more dynamic player skating on his line. I think having to carry the load on the Ice Dogs would accelerate his development, and make him a more certain bet (were he to prove himself capable) to be a legitimate Top-Six forward. Being the defence's focal point night in, night out would push him to develop into an even better prospect. Having Huberdeau on the team probably boosts his points totals, but it leaves Phillip's biggest question unresolved.
What do you think, Wilderness? Is the return of Jonathan Huberdeau a positive or negative for Zack Phillips?