Player #1: Aleksander Barkov, Center
Aleksander Barkov was last season’s Panthers all-star, leading the team in points, assists, and shorthanded goals. One year has passed, and the Finn has one more year of experience, game time, and filthy backhanders.
Barkov was amongst the NHL’s top 20 centers via NHL Network and the NHL Network fan vote this past season, so the attention is already there:
It’s whether Barkov can produce similarly to last season, where he dropped 51 assists, 10 special teams goals, and a career high in goals at 27. All this said, he’s still only 22, and will be 23 at the beginning of the Panthers’ season in October.
These numbers are amongst the NHL’s elite, ranking above John Tavares, Patrice Bergeron, and Jack Eichel in assists. He led the NHL in shorthanded goals with 5 and is highly regarded as one of the best penalty killers in the league.
Barkov is perfectly made for the All-Star Game and showcased his moves in last year’s event in Tampa Bay in the Shootout Streak, where he used backhanders and dekes to impress the media and the fans watching.