Florida Panthers: How Aleksander Barkov Helps his Team

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 29: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers skates against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on March 29, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 29: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers skates against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on March 29, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With his provided skill set and attitude on and off the ice, Aleksander Barkov has proven to show key importance towards the success of the Florida Panthers.

Since his career began, Aleksander Barkov was and still is a promising, exciting young player for the Florida Panthers. His game brings an incredible double feature of top of the line offensive skill and shut-down defensive toughness. Along with his responsible, two-way game he can also bring a little bit of magic to the table when it comes to the shootout.

To start, the young Finnish forward has an impressive offensive game when it comes to his shot. Not only does it come with a rocket wrister, but a blistering one-timer too. Barkov’s wrist shot has always come in handy, especially with the quick hands that he owns.

Most of his goals result from wrist shots, whether they’re on the power play, penalty kill, or at even strength. His wrist shot is a blessed one that comes at a firing speed, explaining his high goal total.

If Barkov isn’t scoring with his wrist shot, then he’s usually putting the puck in the back of the net with his slap shot or one-timer. As his career has progressed, his one-timer has developed an increase in speed and accuracy. An example of this evolution comes specifically from a game during the 2016-17 season.

In a road game against the

San Jose Sharks

, the Cats were getting to the midpoint of the first period, up 2-1. At an instant, defenseman

Keith Yandle

slid across a pass to Barkov who let an electrifying one-timer go past the glove hand of

Martin Jones

for a big goal. This is a pure example of how Barkov’s shot is not only important to his individual success, but to the team’s success as well:

To continue, Barkov’s offensive game comes with a gifted pair of hands. Since he came into the league, Barkov has had his stick-handling and passing abilities compared to the greats of the game including but not limited to Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Kane, and even Connor McDavid.

His hands come in handy during games for the Panthers when Barkov is participating in intense corner battles. Similar to Russian great Pavel Datsyuk, Barkov uses his wit and knowledge from small openings to slide the puck past the opponent to escape from trouble.

Moreover, his hands are not only limited to corner battles and regulation plays, but they’re also extremely useful when it comes to the last stage of a typical regulation game: the shootout. Hands down, Barkov cannot be described better than a deadly force when it comes to the shootout. Whether it’s a top-shelf shot, a one-hander, or any other type of goalie-fooling shootout attempt, Barkov has incredible essentiality when it comes to the shootout for the Cats.

To switch to the defensive side, the more easily recognizable part of Barkov’s game that makes him so important to the team is his play on defense. The most noticeable part of Barkov’s defensive game is his ability to strip a puck away.

When Barkov wasn’t named as a finalist for the Selke Trophy, the award given to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game, hockey fans worldwide were shocked. This is partly because Barkov last season had more takeaways than the three candidates for this accolade. This is due to the ability that he robs players blind of the puck with magic-like tactics. With this talent, Barkov’s takeaways are key to his team’s success.

Additionally, Barkov’s defensive game is obviously full of surprises and creativity, but arguably, the most important part of it may not necessarily be called as a defensive part of the game. The element I’m referring to is his success rate in the face-off dot, no matter what zone it’s in.

In 2016-17, Barkov finished with a face-off percentage of 46.5% according to Puckbase.com. The number is not as bad as the reality from the fan’s perspective. Every game he played that season, it seemed like he lost every face-off left and right, dot to dot. This all came to a change the following year.

The offseason was not full of needed improvements for Barkov, but he obviously put face-offs as a top priority for himself. He saw an incredible increase in face-off success the following season (2017-18), jumping up to 53.5%. Even though face-offs may not seem to be the defensive part of hockey, it’s definitely part of Barkov’s game that has importance to the contribution of his team’s success.

Next: Pursuing Michael Grabner in Free Agency

To wrap it up, Aleksander Barkov brings numerous skills and important elements to the Florida Panthers roster. It’s probably safe to say that with his skill set, this young forward is very essential to the success of the Cats.