Panthers News & Rumors: Barkov Wins Selke, Wallmark to Russia & More

In this week’s edition of Florida Panthers News & Rumors, captain Aleksander Barkov takes home the Frank J. Selke Trophy, Lucas Wallmark is headed to Russia, and the Panthers’ ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, was eliminated in the Kelly Cup Semifinals.

Barkov Wins the Selke Trophy

On Saturday, Barkov was named the winner of the Selke Trophy, the award given to the best defensive forward in the NHL. This was the first time a Panther has won a major award since Barkov took home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly conduct in 2018-19, and it’s just the seventh time in franchise history that a Florida player took home an award.

David Rittich, Aleksander Barkov
Calgary Flames David Rittich makes a save for the shootout win against Florida Panthers centre Aleksander Barkov (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

“It feels great even to be nominated for this trophy,” Barkov said to the media following his Selke Trophy win. “I’ve always considered myself a two-way player, and this is like the biggest honor you can get as a two-way player.” He is now the first Panther and second Finnish player to receive the honor, the only other Finn being Jere Lehtinen, who won the award three times – twice in a row in 1997-98 and 1998-99, and again in 2002-03.

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On top of being one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, Barkov was one of the most dangerous offensive players as well. He scored 26 goals and 58 points in 50 games, ranking 13th in the league in points and ninth in goals.

Wallmark Is Headed to the KHL

On June 15, CSKA Moscow announced that RFA forward Lucas Wallmark has signed with the team and is leaving the Panthers after playing just four games in his second stint with the club. He was acquired for the second time on April 8, alongside Lucas Carlsson in a deal that sent Brett Connolly, Riley Stillman, Henrik Borgstrom, and a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks. Wallmark was previously acquired by Florida in a package that sent Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2020.

In total, Wallmark played 11 games as a Panther, scoring a goal and an assist. None of those points came in his four-game stint following his trade from Chicago this season. The 25-year-old played 187 NHL games and scored 23 goals and 59 points. His best season came in 2019-20 when he posted 11 goals and 23 points in 60 games.

Wallmark will now play in the KHL for the first time in his hockey career, with his years prior to the NHL coming with the SHL’s Lulea HF. In his 141 games in Sweden, the 6-foot, 179-pound centerman scored 16 goals and 60 points. He was drafted 97th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

ECHL Affiliate Swamp Rabbits Lose in the Semifinals

After a regular season that saw the Swamp Rabbits finish second in the Eastern Conference, the Panthers’ ECHL affiliate was swept by the South Carolina Stingrays in the Kelly Cup Semifinals. The Swamp Rabbits advanced to the semifinals with a sweep of the Indy Fuel before becoming the victim of a sweep.

Greenville’s postseason run was led by 24-year-old forward Graham Knott, who scored three goals and seven points in eight playoff games. The biggest Panthers prospect of note on the roster, Patrick Bajkov, didn’t see as much success, not registering a single point in two games during the postseason. The 23-year-old scored 16 points and 39 points in 53 games during the regular season.

In goal, John Lethemon led the way, notching two of the four wins the Swamp Rabbits got during the playoffs. He went 2-1 with a .941 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.79 goals-against-average (GAA) while Ryan Bednard went 2-3 with a .929 SV% and a 2.44 GAA.

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