On October 8, 2021, the same day Scott Mellanby started the rat tradition 26 years earlier, the Florida Panthers showed they were committed to winning by signing their captain in Aleksander Barkov to an eight-year, $80 million deal with an annual average of $10 million per year. As a result, it is the largest contract given to a player in franchise history. With what he’s done over the years for this team, he deserves every penny of his new contract.
Barkov’s Career Accolades
Since being drafted back in 2013, Barkov has hit highs that no other Panther has done in franchise history. In the 2018-19 season, he had the most points in a single season with 96. That same season, he tallied up the second-most assists in one season with 61 and won the Lady Byng Memorial trophy. Furthermore, he is second all-time in goals with 181, assists with 284, points with a total of 465, and game-winning goals with 33. In addition, he became the first Panther to win the Frank J. Selke award for how great of a two-way forward he is. As a result, it was almost a no-brainer to name him the captain in 2018.
Additionally, he was named to the NHL All-Star game in 2018. So far, it is his only All-Star appearance, but that is more than likely to change in the coming years. Barkov’s new eight-year deal will give him more than enough time to set new records and set the bar for future team players to hit.
Despite missing eight games last season, Barkov once again had great production. He piled up a total of 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists) through 50 games. In the playoffs, he registered a goal and six assists through six games. He looks to get back into the postseason fray this upcoming season after a disappointing end at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Barkov’s Teammates, Coaches and Front Office Are Excited to See Him Back
Due to his leadership, his teammates and his coaches are beyond joyful to see him extend his time in Broward County. It was no wonder he had a massive press conference in Fort Lauderdale the day of his signing. For example, Jonathan Huberdeau had an Instagram post talking about bringing him back into the fray for another eight years, as well as a hint that he may also get himself a new deal. Furthermore, Panthers general manager Bill Zito had nothing but praise for the Finnish forward.
“I think you’re going to find in short order as you talk to his teammates that you’ll see it resonate both in the words they use and the tone in the matter in which they use them how appreciated Sasha is as a teammate and as a leader and as an example with his attention to detail.”Bill Zito on Aleksander Barkov resigning with the Florida Panthers.
Barkov’s Setting Himself Up for Another Eight Years of Elite Production
As previously mentioned, the Panthers giving Barkov a new extension shows they’re all in on him and committed to winning with him at the helm. The records he’s made and what he’s done for the Panthers and the city of Sunrise are nothing short of remarkable. It’s clear he loves playing here, and he loves this city as he sees this place as his home.
“Being in the organization that drafted me, that gave me a chance to play here and develop me into the player I am right now and into the human being I am right now, to be able to stay here for as long as possible is a huge thing for me. I’ve really loved every second here my whole career. I’ve never thought about anything else other than being here, playing here and trying to win a Stanley Cup here.”Aleksander Barkov on Extending with the Florida Panthers
Arguably one of the hardest workers on the team, this quote shows that he wants this team to grow with him in his production.
What’s Next for Barkov?
More than likely, his focus is now on the upcoming season. As previously mentioned, he may still have a bitter taste in his mouth after Florida’s first-round exit last season. However, he has the capabilities to put up elite numbers year after year. With him leading that locker room, anything is possible for both him and the Panthers.
In addition, everything on this team is setting him up for success. He has fantastic linemates in Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart. He’ll have an elite squad on the man advantage with Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad and Patric Hornqvist, and he has arguably one of the greatest coaches in the NHL in Joel Quenneville. For the next eight years, Sunrise is going to get some eyes as they form a new hockey superpower in the league.
My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!