While watching the Florida Panthers play the Chicago Blackhawks, something became clear: Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau should remind fans of younger versions of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The difference between the two sets of players is pretty weighty at this point, of course.
Toews and Kane have been at the center of revitalizing the Blackhawks and carrying them from basement dwellers to one of the league’s best teams. They’ve won Stanley Cups and individual trophies and were top-10 players in the NHL before they hit 25. Hefty skates to fill for Barkov and Huberdeau to be sure.
Yet the dynamic between the two is alarmingly the same. It may seem like a coincidence until you consider that it’s Dale Tallon that is rebuilding the Panthers. He’s the one that was responsible for drafting Toews and Kane while in Chicago. Is it possible he’s dreaming of the same kind of connection between his two young building blocks?
Their comparable skill sets would certainly indicate that.
Huberdeau is akin to Kane in this comparison. He’s silky-smooth around the net and is capable of making both goalies and defenders look silly. He has something-out-of-nothing quick-strike abilities, and could eventually become one of the most lethal scorers in the NHL. Huberdeau is an outstanding passer too—as is Kane—but his capability to do incredible things at high speed is impressive.
Toews has evolved into one of the most dynamic two-way players in the NHL over the last three seasons. Captain Serious was drafted as an outstanding three-zone talent that was among the most complete players in available. That’s the exact same billing that Barkov came into the league with.
While Barkov is a dog in front of the net and Toews isn’t known for his dirty goals, it’s that commitment to detail at such a young age that makes the two comparable.
It took Chicago two seasons to really start to click, and they already had anchors on the blue line in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook so a similar curve shouldn’t be expected from the Panthers. Yet there are many similarities between Florida’s dynamic duo and that of Chicago, giving the Panthers a bright future if they just keep hacking away at it.