Already missing Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad for extended periods this season, the Florida Panthers will be without number one center Aleksander Barkov for the next 14 days or more.
Florida Panthers put Sasha Barkov on IR, will activate Reilly Smith (concussion)…Greg McKegg recalled, Kyle Ray sent to AHL Springfield
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) December 30, 2016
In a campaign that has seen the Panthers unable to win more than two games in a row, the owner Vincent Viola elected Secretary of the U.S. Army by President-Elect Donald Trump, and head coach Gerard Gallant get fired in favor of General Manager Tom Rowe taking over behind the bench, the one constant recently that has been key in keeping the team afloat has been Barkov.
His last 19 games have seen him accrue seven goals and 19 points to jump up to first on the team in scoring with nine goals and 27 points. His play has rubbed off on linemate Jaromir Jagr, as he has scored five goals and 15 points in his last 20 contests en route to placing second all-time in NHL scoring currently with 1889 points. Barkov’s impact stretches into many situations, as he’s second among Panthers forwards to Jagr in power play ice time with 110:44 notching seven man advantage points and a team-high seven takeaways on the penalty kill.
Barkov and Jagr along with missing piece Huberdeau formed the most efficient line on the Panthers last season, with each scoring 20 goals and the latter coming one point away from matching his line mates with at least 60 points each. All told, the 21-year old Tampere, Finland native led the Floridians with 28 goals and placed 14th among all centers in that category. The former 5th overall pick has grown quickly and was rewarded for his development with a six-year, $35.4 million contract in January that will pay him $5.9 million per season.
In games where Barkov scores at least a point, the team is 11-5-4. When he goes pointless, they are an anemic 4-9-3. For a team that has struggled to string together consecutive win streaks, this is just another big blow to overcome.