The Florida Panthers have been in the NHL news a lot lately. They’ve been in and out of first place in the Atlantic Division a few times over the past week. They signed GM Dale Tallon to an extension on New Year’s Day. And on Jan. 2, they locked up coach Gerrard Gallant to a two-year extension that would keep him behind the bench until 2019.
But they’re not done. In fact, the best is yet to come.
“The next item of business is Aleksander Barkov,” said Elliotte Friedman on Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment. “They’ve begun talking extension with him. We’re not talking bridge, we’re talking long term. Probably six to eight years.”
Barkov, who the Panthers selected second overall in the 2013 draft ahead of the higher-ranked Seth Jones is well on his way to a career season. Through 28 games, Barkov has 11 goals and 23 points, which is good for third in team scoring. His current career-best is the 36 points he got last season.
More than that, Barkov is emerging as a solid two-way player and a driver of possession. Standing 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, the centre is the second-best forward on the players as measured by corsi and corsi relative, behind only Jaromir Jagr.
Currently, the Panthers only have three forwards signed beyond the 2016-17 season: Dave Bolland ($5.5 million), Jussi Jokinen ($4 million) and another young centre, Nick Bjugstad ($4.1 million).