The Florida Panthers finally have a one-two punch down the middle, something the franchise has never really had the luxury of. That one-two punch would consist of centers Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad.
Plain and simple the Florida Panthers have just not had this kind of one-tow punch down the middle in their franchise history. These kids are going to be fun to watch develop, as both had breakout seasons this year.
Big, Strong, and Talented
Both Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad are big bodies to begin with. Barkov at age 19 is listed at 6′ 3″, 213 lbs while Bjugstad is 6′ 6″, 218 lbs. Add in high-end hockey IQ and skill on the puck, and you have two very young and promising powerful centers.
Florida can now build around these guys(kids) for the next decade or so if all goes well. After all, Barkov is only 19 years old, while Bjugstad is just 22. To shore things up in the top-six, the Florida Panthers will need a scoring winger to add to Bjugstad’s line. As I doubt the line of Barkov, Huberdeau, and Jagr is broken up, but we’ll leave roster speculation for another time.
Panthers fans just have to be very excited and optimistic about the team’s future. GM Dale Tallon has done an incredible job in the short time he has been with the club. Solid drafting, and smart trades have put the Florida Panthers back on the hockey map.
How Good Are We Talking Here?
Just how good these two players will become is not yet known. Though certainly the potential and signs point heavily towards them both panning out as projected.
Aleksander Barkov finished his Sophomore season out with 16 goals, 20 assists, for 36 points in 71 games. While Nick Bjugstad fired in 24 goals, 19 assists, for a total of 43 points in 72 games played. Both of these guys have all the talent to become a true number 1 center, with Barkov having the slight edge being 3 years younger plus a higher ceiling than Bjugstad.
One thing is certain, these kids are no busts, and will continue to grow and improve their games. The Florida Panthers finally have that one-two punch that’s eluded them since the team was introduced into the NHL in 1993-94. Watch out meow.
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble