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Report: Aleksander Barkov, Panthers Agree to 8-Year, $80 Million Contract Extension

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 8, 2021

Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Florida Panthers and captain Aleksander Barkov reportedly agreed to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension Friday ahead of the 2021-22 NHL season.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman first reported details of the deal. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic noted the contract includes signing bonuses worth over $70 million in total.

Barkov has been a cornerstone in the Panthers lineup since the franchise selected him with the second overall pick in the 2013 draft.

His breakout season came in 2015-16, when he scored 59 points in 66 games, and he ranks 16th among all NHL players with 405 points across 404 appearances over the past six years, per StatMuse.

The 26-year-old Finland native tallied 26 goals and 32 assists in 50 contests for Florida last season.

Barkov's analytics also suggest he's one of the league's best forwards, as illustrated by JFresh of EP Rinkside:

JFresh @JFreshHockey

Aleksander Barkov, signed 8x$10M by FLA, is one of the top players in the NHL, a dominant offensive player who attacks with speed, manages the puck better than anybody in the league, and is a pain in the ass to play against. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FlaPanthers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FlaPanthers</a> <a href="https://t.co/b7II7blt6a">pic.twitter.com/b7II7blt6a</a>

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In September, the dynamic center confirmed he wanted to remain with the Panthers for the long haul.

"I love playing here. I love what we're building here," Barkov told reporters. "Hockey in South Florida is getting bigger and better. I'm really excited about everything that's going on here. I haven't really thought about anything else. Wearing a Panthers jersey is a huge honor for me."

Florida has reached the postseason each of the past two seasons, but it was knocked out in the qualifying round in 2020 and got eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of last season's playoffs.

The Panthers upgraded their roster during the offseason, highlighted by a trade with the Buffalo Sabres to acquire Sam Reinhart, who'll likely skate alongside Barkov on the top line.

They also signed 42-year-old future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton to provide depth at center.

Florida's path to a Stanley Cup title is complicated by playing in an Atlantic Division that also features the Lightning, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, but it definitely has enough talent to make a deeper playoff run this year after getting a recent taste of postseason action.

The Panthers will open the new campaign Thursday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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