Aleksander Barkov has agreed to a six-year, $35.4 million contract extension with the Florida Panthers.
Many hockey fans will look at these numbers and say, that’s a lot of money to be spending on a 20-year-old kid. Part of me would have to agree, when you look at some of the other comparable contracts.
On the other hand, Barkov has quickly become one of the most exciting players in the NHL. The Panthers selected Barkov with the second pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Barkov has been a centerpiece of the offense in Florida ever since. Barkov has 30 points in 38 games this season. I believe he is just tapping into his potential and possesses the ability to become a consistent point-per-game producer at the NHL level.
“I love to be here,” Barkov said during a press conference Tuesday. “I like coming here every morning and working hard. This is a good spot for me. The team is going in the right direction. It’s good to know right now I’m going to be here for the next six years. I feel safe, but I’m not going to stop working. I’ll work even harder and get better.”
Let’s face it, the Florida Panthers never get the respect they deserve because they are in a nontraditional hockey market. We all knew this franchise had playoff potential… Yet, many fans refuse to believe they would put it all together.
Look at them now: second place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 28-15-5 and leading the Atlantic Division; that’s impressive stuff.
“Another great day for the Florida Panthers organization,” general manager Dale Tallon said. “Another message sent that we’re totally committed to winning in South Florida, and I’m excited about that opportunity. I’m excited about our future. These decisions aren’t made lightly, making a commitment to a player, but [Barkov] is not only a player – one of the best players in the League in all three zones of the ice – but more importantly about [Barkov, it’s his character, his passion and his dedication, and that made the decision easy for us to commit to a long-term deal. Not only a great player, but a better person, and that’s what we’re all about here — character and developing a winning culture on and off the ice here in Sunrise, Florida.
“He’s going to lead us to the promise land.”
The Florida Panthers are a prime example of what can happen to a hockey team if you have success on the draft floor.
Take a look at that roster: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad, not to mention the fact that these talented youngsters are learning the ropes from an NHL legend in Jaromir Jagr.
Bright future, indeed, for the Florida Panthers.
Featured Image Credit: Joel Auerbach-Associated Press