Panthers rookie Jonathan Huberdeau's mother was pregnant with him when Alex Kovalev was 19 and playing in his first NHL game in 1992. But on Tuesday morning, they were linemates exchanging passes and tips until the rugged Russian found the back of the net.
While Huberdeau, the overall third draft pick in 2011, is also 19 and four days away from his NHL debut, Kovalev, 39, is competing for a contract to play on his fifth team in his 18th pro season. Together with linemate center Peter Mueller, who at 24 is attempting to return to his pre-concussion rookie form of 2007-08 when he scored 22 goals, they hope to add secondary scoring to the Panthers' 27th-ranked offense.
Huberdeau, who is 428 career goals away from Kovalev, had 150 points in 97 games in his last two seasons of junior hockey, so he didn't hesitate to ask the one-time 44-goal scorer for advice.
"He's unbelievable on the ice, unbelievable hands, so it's great to see him out there,'' said Huberdeau, who displayed a similar skill-set during his first practice of camp after sitting out a few days with some aches.
"I watched him play in Montreal [from 2003-09], and it was exciting every game he was there. To be on the ice with him is kind of a dream, to talk strategy off the ice, too, so we can get to know each other.''
Alex Kovalev hopes to supply points and pointers to Panthers
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Jan 16