TAMPA — Sasha Barkov is going to be with the Florida Panthers for a long, long time.
Barkov has agreed to an eight-year contract extension with the Panthers.
The team captain will sign the new deal poolside at a hotel in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Friday afternoon and he and GM Bill Zito will talk about the contract then.
Per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, Barkov will make $10 million per season which makes this the biggest contract in franchise history.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky signed a seven-year, $70 million deal in 2019.
The contract is also almost completely constructed through signing bonuses: Barkov will get $1 million per season in base contract with the remainder (or vast majority of his annual money) due on July 1 of each year.
Barkov, who just turned 26 last month but is headed into his ninth NHL season, is considered one of the premier two-way centers in the entire National Hockey League.
Signing the 2021 Selke Trophy winner to a long-term deal was an offseason priority of Zito.
The contract goes into effect next season.
“I obviously want to stay here, I want to win here,’’ Barkov said in January when it was reported teams from around the league were calling Zito to see if his cornerstone center was available. He was not.
“My biggest goal is to win here.”
Barkov, the second overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, is entering the final season of a six-year extension he signed with the Panthers during their 2015-16 run to the Atlantic Division title.
“Great day for our franchise,” then-GM Dale Tallon said when Barkov signed his six-year extension in 2016 as a fresh-faced 20-year-old.
“I’m excited about this young man, not only for his hockey but for his ability to be such a class act. He’s going to lead us to the promised land.”
That contract pays Barkov $5.9 million annually and has been considered a steal considering what he has meant to the team.
Two years later, Barkov was named the 10th captain in franchise history.
“This is awesome and a dream come true,’’ Barkov said in 2018 when he replaced Derek MacKenzie as the team captain. “This is probably the biggest honor of my life, to be the captain of an NHL team. To be drafted here and grow here, it’s a real honor.”
Barkov has been eligible to sign a contract extension since July but since he was in Finland, there was no real rush to get anything done.
The Panthers, despite hand-wringing from some fans, were never worried that Barkov was going to move on.
Barkov has said time and again that he loves playing in South Florida and wants to not only win but help the franchise continue to grow the game in the region.
“Right now, the only thing I think about is playing for the Florida Panthers,” Barkov said when training camp opened.
“I love playing here, love what we’ve started building here. The team is getting better, the organization is getting better. Hockey in South Florida is getting bigger and better. I am really excited about everything that’s going on here. I haven’t thought about anything else than going into this season.
“Wearing a Panthers jersey is a huge honor for me. I’m really happy where I am right now.”
Locking down Barkov means the Panthers have many of their key players signed for the next couple of years.
The Panthers have nine key regulars (Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe, Bobrovsky included) signed through 2024 and a few through 2025.
Jonathan Huberdeau is also making $5.9 million and would be eligible to sign an extension with the team this coming summer. He is signed through 2023.
“In the past, this organization has drafted players, developed them and off they’ve gone,” Tallon said in 2016.
“It was a cycle that wasn’t very effective. The commitment (from ownership) is to build a winning team and win the Stanley Cup. You can’t do that unless you lock up your core guys for a long time and be committed to them.”