We heard a few days ago that the Panthers are working on potentially signing Aleksander Barkov to an 8-year deal, the maximum contract extension allowed by the NHL, and Andy Slater of 940-AM WINZ radio has been told the same.
Since the end of November, the Panthers have won 4 straight shootouts and all 4 times, it has been Aleksander Barkov who has scored the deciding goal. He did it once with his signature one-handed tap in, another with a simple backhander, the third after putting the puck off his skate blade, and last night with a quick wrist shot 5-hole.
He hasn’t only been impressive in the shootout, however. On Sunday against the Canucks, Barkov thwarted what would’ve been a breakaway scoring opportunity in overtime for Jannik Hansen by skating hard and stealing the puck from behind him. He’s got 18 points in 25 games this year and it was evident that the Panthers struggled without him in the lineup when he injured his hand early on in the season.
Barkov is a part of this team’s core and future and the Panthers recognize that, so they’ll certainly want to lock him up long-term like they did with Nick Bjugstad last December. Barkov has been probably the most consistent play for the Panthers over the last three season and he has steadily improved in all facets of the game.
With Barkov becoming a restricted free-agent after this season, a source told us that a deal with him is being worked on and it could potentially have a length of 8 years which would keep him in South Florida through the 2023-24 season. A dollar amount around $5.5 million to $6.5 million per year would be a great deal for the Panthers (or less obviously) just like Bjugstad’s 6-year, $24.6 million contract was. A bridge deal isn’t likely considering there’s no question of how the 20-year old plays, and even if he received a bridge deal, he’d likely command even more money at the end of it.
Barkov is currently in the final season of his 3-year entry level deal which he signed prior to the 2013-14 season. When he was drafted in 2013, his agent was Petteri Lehto of Octagon Hockey, although according to the agency’s website, Barkov is not listed a client.