With a successful week of development camp already in the books, the Florida Panthers gave fans another reason to smile this afternoon as the team announced that they had finally signed the 2013 2nd overall draft selection, Aleksander Barkov, to a 3-year entry level contract. In what the team hopes will be looked back on as a case of saving the best for last, Barkov becomes the last of this year’s top 4 draft picks to be signed to an NHL deal.
Already an incredible talent at the young age of 17, Barkov impressed scouts last season while playing in the Finnish Elite League, also known as SM-Liiga. While playing against grown men and even some former NHL’ers, Barkov was able to finish the season 9th in scoring with 48 points (21G-27A-48P) in just 53 games played. By finishing the season 9th in scoring, Barkov became the youngest player in the history of SM-Liga to crack the top 10. Adding to this remarkable accomplishment, he also broke the SM-Liiga single-season record for the most points tallied by a player under the age of 18 – an honor once held by former Panther, Olli Jokinen.
Although Barkov was unable to participate in the Panthers’ annual development camp this past week, his presence at the team’s training facility was still a welcomed pleasure to fans and teammates alike. While he didn’t skate in any organized activities, Barkov was able to spend time talking to fellow prospects as well as Panthers’ coaches and staff.
With training camp set to begin in September, Barkov will finally get his chance to step on the ice alongside his new teammates and make his highly anticipated debut in front of the Panther faithful. Even though he has yet to play a minute in the NHL, Barkov has already made it known exactly what he wants to accomplish with the Panthers.
When asked about his newest potential star, Florida Panthers’ general Manager Dale Tallon was quick to praise the young European.
“He has a desire to be here and really wants to be a star,” said Tallon of the 17-year-old Barkov. “He wants to play right away.”
The full details of Barkov’s contract can be found here.
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