Breaking news, the Florida Panthers have agreed to an 8-year extension with their captain, Aleksander Barkov. This extension will carry an AAV of $10-million. Barky is in the final year of a 6-year, $35.4 million dollar deal and was set to become a UFA at the end of this year. Not a bad little payday for the captain.
To say this has been a good week for last year’s Selke winner is an understatement. Yesterday, Barkov was named as one of three players to Finland’s provisional 2022 Olympic Roster along with Sebastian Aho and Mikko Rantanen.
Barkov was drafted 2nd overall by the Panthers in the 2013 entry level draft and is arguably one of the best centers in the NHL right now. EA Sports has him listed as 6th in their NHL 22 game (which he should have been on the cover for). As mentioned above, he was able to beat out perennial Selke winner, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Stone this year to take home the hardware.
While Barkov is 26 and this deal will take him in to his mid-30’s; however, for most this would be an area of concern, but Barky plays the game very intelligently and much like Patrice Bergeron does in Boston. His defensive smarts and positional awareness will keep him in the league even as he ages and begins to slow down, unlike many who are a flash in the pan and when they lose that step, they are quickly forgotten.
Barkov is the Swiss Army Knife for the Panthers as he does anything and everything it takes for the team to win. He plays a defense first style of play and still was able to rack up 58 points in 50 games last season. Most nights he plays over 20 minutes per game and will get both PP and PK time, while still managing a point-per-game production rate and shutting down opponents’ top lines.
So far, in 8 NHL seasons, Barkov has played in 529 games tallied 181 goals, 284 assists, won the 2018-19 Lady Byng, and also the 2020-21 Selke Trophy. Not bad for a 26-year-old, eh? What did you accomplish by 26?
Barky seems to be hitting the prime of his career at about the same time as the Panthers are hockey in franchise history. With Barkov locked down for almost the next decade, the Panthers should have a very long window to bring a Stanley Cup to the Best Coast of Florida.
Barkov is the type of player that you want to build your franchise around and that seems to be exactly what the Cats are doing. Bill Zito has made some incredible moves the past few offseasons and really strengthened the core for the Panthers. See my previous articles for more details, but picking up guys like Reinhart and Thornton was huge. Right now, the only question mark for the Cats is who is going to be the #1 goaltender when playoffs start. Will Bob be able to find his game again or will it be Knight time in South Florida? Only time will tell.
Congrats Aleksander Barkov and I am sure in the next few years you will prove that this is the underpayment of the century. All that is left is to lock down Hubby and the Cats are golden!
In Zito we trust!