21-Year-Old Center – Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov Contract Information:
Signed a six-year, $35.4 million contract extension with the Panthers in January of 2016.
Barkov (back) is making positive strides in his rehab, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel reports, adding that the center won't require surgery and is already preparing for next season.
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Aleksander Barkov: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The second overall pick in 2013, Barkov made positive strides in 2014-15, totaling 16 goals and 20 assists in 71 games. While his shooting percentage was very high at 13.0 percent, the teenaged Barkov showed a goal-scoring knack that was missing from his rookie season, when he found net just eight times. The 6-foot-3 centerman is still growing into his body, and with more opportunities on the power play, he should continue to see strong point production as he begins his age-20 season. Pivoting one of the Panthers' top two lines certainly won't hurt his cause, either. With a ton of promise and talented linemates, Barkov is a good depth option in most formats and is worth grabbing while you still can in keeper leagues.
Barkov's promising rookie season was cut short by a knee injury suffered while playing for Finland at the 2014 Olympics. On the bright side, the 18-year-old was playing for a medal contender at the world's best hockey tournament in the midst of a strong rookie season. Barkov is expected to be fully healthy for the start of the season and should be the Panthers' top center, likely lining up with fellow promising youngster Jonathan Huberdeau. Barkov's potential is as a top two-way center and elite playmaker in the NHL. It wouldn't be surprising to see him reach the 50-point plateau in his sophmore season. He's going to find a place in all fantasy leagues this year.
The Cats took Barkov second overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, and the 17-year-old has a very bright future ahead of him. He just signed a $3.575 million contract this summer, so it looks like that future is now. He'll be asked to step in right away and score for the team with the second-lowest payroll in the NHL. He won't be at the front of most fantasy owners' minds on draft day, but if he starts out the season well don't be afraid to pick him up early before everybody else catches on. If his 48 points in 53 games in the Finnish SM-liiga last season are any indication of his potential, the youngster could be an offensive force once he settles into the North American game.