The Buffalo Sabres will select second overall in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. This marks the highest that the Sabres have picked since 1987, when the team chose Pierre Turgeon with the first selection. In this series at SabreNoise, we’ll take a look over the next few weeks at the second-overall selections in the NHL Draft in recent years, and what they’ve done in their time since being drafted. Today, it’s 2013 Florida Panthers pick Aleksander Barkov.
Aleksander Barkov was the top-ranked international skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to being drafted, the centerman was playing in Tampere, Finland, his hometown, with Tappara Tampere of the Finnish Elite League.
His pre-draft year saw him notch 48 points in 53 games. That included a 21-goal campaign, along with 27 assists, as a 16-17 year old.
Barkov also had five assists in as many playoff games with Tappara Tampere prior to the NHL Draft.
Barkov turned 18 just before this year’s NHL season, on September 2. He made his NHL debut on October 3, 2013 against the Dallas Stars. Barkov didn’t wait to make his mark on the scoresheet, notching his first NHL goal that game. He also had four shots on goal and played 15:34 of ice time in his first-ever professional game on North American soil.
Overall, Barkov finished his rookie season in the NHL with eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points in 54 regular season games. He was making quite a name for himself in the NHL, having a solid rookie season before he headed over to represent his country in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Barkov was the youngest player on Finland’s Olympic roster this year. He had one assist in Finland’s first game of the tournament, an 8-4 victory over Austria. Barkov then had three shots on goal in 15:03 in Finland’s second game of the tournament, when he sustained a knee injury.
That injury would mean missing the remainder of the Olympics, as well as the rest of the NHL season upon Barkov’s return to North American soil. Finland won bronze in the Olympics, and the Panthers finished 15th overall in the Eastern Conference with a 66-point season.
Overall, Barkov has only had a small amount of time to make an impact in the NHL, but he’s been solid and provided he’s healthy, should have quite a sophomore season with the Panthers.