The Florida Panthers announced the signing of forward Aleksander Barkov to a three-year, entry-level contract this morning. Barkov was selected with the second overall pick in the draft after a stellar season with Tappara, of Finland's SM-liiga, that saw him notch 21 goals and total 48 points in 53 regular season games. The 17-year-old also added 5 assists in 5 playoff games before his season was ended by a shoulder injury.
With the Panthers currently being thin down the middle, Barkov is expected to claim a roster spot on the big-league club and make an immediate impact.
Here are some highlights of Barkov's work with Tappara (courtesy of Hockey Intangibles)
From the Panthers' press release:
"We are pleased to have signed Aleksander," said Tallon. "He is a mature, strong and skilled forward who plays well at both ends of the ice and strengthens our line-up down the middle. Aleksander is a creative and dynamic player who our fans will enjoy watching. We look forward to his contributions to our organization both on and off the ice."
"I am very excited about signing my first NHL contract with Florida," said Barkov. "I enjoyed meeting with the Panthers coaches, my future teammates and our fans at development camp last week. I will continue to train hard and look forward to competing for a spot on the team when training camp opens in September."
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound center has represented Finland at each of the last two World Junior Championships. He recorded seven points (3-4-7) in six games during the 2012-13 tournament in Ufa, Russia. In 2011-12, Barkov became the youngest Finnish player ever to be selected to play in the World Junior Championships. During that same tournament, Barkov became the second youngest player to ever score a goal in the WJC competition at the age of 16, finishing with four points (1-3-4) in six games.