Panthers Need to Extend Barkov with a Hefty Payday

Since being selected second overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Aleksander Barkov has made his mark as a Florida Panther. From being named the captain in 2018 to breaking the single season point record in 2019, Barkov has done so much for the team’s past, present, and future. Entering the 2021-22 season, he is on the final year of his contract worth $5.9 million annually that he signed back in 2016.

With the limited amount of cap space that Florida will have next year, it might be difficult for them to get a deal done. The reason for that is because Barkov deserves a hefty payday, as evident by his performance since his arrival in South Florida, though taking a team-friendly deal is not out of the question.

How Much of a Raise Will He Get?

Considering the contract he’s on currently was the first real NHL deal he received, he’s going to get a raise of some sort. You could make the argument that he deserves, at the very least, $7 Million yearly due to the way he plays, and the fact that other players have set the market. For example, Colorado Avalanche forward and captain Gabriel Landeskog just signed an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $7 million.

Related: Panthers News & Rumors: Free Agency, Barkov & More

Seeing how Landeskog got his deal may give him some ideas on what to expect. In addition, he’ll more than likely use the lack of state income tax in Florida as a way to leverage his argument. Although, because of the type of player he is, he’ll likely be more than willing to negotiate a cheaper deal where everyone involved wins.

What About his Teammates?

This is where getting a team friendly deal out of Barkov will be pushed hard by the Panthers. As of right now, the Panthers have currently $7.8 million to work with. Furthermore, they still have to give a new deal to newly acquired winger Sam Reinhart and they have forward Jonathan Huberdeau going into the second-to-last year of his contract. In addition, they have to eat Keith Yandle’s contract for over $5 million next season as a buyout cap hit. Unless a major move is made that frees up a good chunk of cap, the idea of everyone coming back seems unlikely.

Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While it seems unlikely that he walks in free agency, the cap situation they’re currently in does not show a good sign of things to come. If they figure out a deal this offseason, they’ll have time to get things worked out by the time his new deal kicks in.

Will He Walk?

This is clearly worst case scenario, but as with anyone on an expiring deal, there is always the possibility of the player walking away and searching for something in free agency. With the current cap hell that Florida will be in next season, it’s going to be difficult to negotiate a new deal, especially after a great performance this past season.

Him walking could destroy the chemistry this team has constructed over the course of the past few years, although his lack of playoff appearances and career achievements every year could drive him from South Florida to play for another team. Ultimately, it does not seem likely since he has made his mark here and does not seem too keen on leaving.

When Will We See this Deal?

Of course, negotiating can take a long time. But this deal may need to happen sooner rather than later. Panthers’ general manager, Bill Zito has already signed multiple players to new deals that are fair and don’t hurt the cap dramatically. It’s clear he knows how to negotiate a deal that helps the team overall.

Related: Panthers’ Top 10 Prospects Heading Into the 2021-22 Season

However, Barkov is a special case. As previously mentioned, his performances are deserving of a brand new contract worth a fair amount of money. Because of the impact he’s had for hockey in Sunrise, Zito and ownership should be doing everything in their power to get him on a new deal and get him back on the ice with comfort. Either way, this situation is going to have the attention and focus of fans, analysts and players across the league.