The Florida Panthers surprised a lot of people when they selected Aleksander Barkov with the second overall pick. Most around the league thought Florida would go with defenseman Seth Jones but instead they took the 17 year old Finnish center. Barkov has been playing professionally in Finland and it is expected that he will be able to make the jump directly to the NHL this season.
TSN’s Aaron Ward tweeted that the Panthers and Barkov could announce a deal as soon as today:
Expect announcement as soon as tomorrow that Aleksander Barkov (2nd overall 2013 Draft) and the Florida Panthers have come to terms. #TSN
— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) July 13, 2013
With a deal between the two sides pending, it is time to hear your opinion on Barkov. While he is currently recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, all signs point to Barkov being ready for the start of the regular season. With that in mind, it is worth wondering how productive the Panthers’ new center man will be. Share your thoughts in the poll:
My vote would probably fall in the 21-30 goal range which I would call a cautiously optimistic projection. Barkov could potentially be paired up with Jonathan Huberdeau forming a deadly goal scoring combo, a relationship that would hopefully inflate both players point totals. Even without the Hubby-Barkov duo, I think Sasha will thrive in his first NHL season. The big factor working in his favor is the experience he gained playing professionally in Finland. Most young players coming into the NHL are transitioning from college hockey or from juniors and the jump to the NHL can come as a shock. While the Finnish professional league is certainly not on the same level as the NHL, it is still a much closer approximation than any of North America’s top amateur leagues.