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Sasha Barkov: The Florida Panthers goal-scoring machine does everything

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Florida Panthers center Sasha Barkov pictured in warmups before playing the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday night. — AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

It took a couple of seasons for Sasha Barkov to become one of the Florida Panthers most counted on goal scorers but he got there.

And Barkov has kept on going.

After scoring eight goals as a rookie and 16 as a sophomore, Barkov has hit the 20-goal marker in each of his following seven seasons.

Including this one.

Barkov, despite missing 13 games due to injury, is on pace to set a career-high in goals and is leading the NHL’s top scoring team with 25 in 40 games.

“I think I am playing with pretty good players,” said Barkov, citing Jonathan Huberdeau, Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair and Sam Reinhart.

“They make me look good. We have great chemistry as a team so it does not matter who you are playing with, you know you are going to get your chances. You have to capitalize on them. I am really happy to be playing with these guys.”

Barkov’s best season putting pucks in the back of the net came in 2018-19 when he set career highs with 35 goals and 96 points.

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That came in 82 games.

This season, Barkov more than likely won’t hit 96 points due to those games missed — but he is well on track to match his career high.

Barkov is averaging .625 goals per game this season which is the best pace he has ever been on.

Last year ended up being his best, Barkov’s 26 goals in 50 games coming in at .520 goals per game.

Barkov’s current run would be on pace for 51 goals in an 82 game season — which would work out to 43 goals in 69 games.

When you look at all the things Barkov does for the Panthers, scoring at this kind of clip certainly is impressive.

“Every part of his game is really good,” coach Andrew Brunette said. “He is so dynamic and such a good player. … What can you say about Barky? He’s such an underrated player. He went against the top guy in the league the other day and I thought he outplayed Connor (McDavid). We ended up on the short end of the stick, but it was fun to see him go head-to-head.”

Earlier in the season, ESPN analyst John Tortorella took a little flack for saying that Barkov should be considered the top player in the NHL — even better than McDavid, who won that ESPN poll.

Tortorella cited Barkov’s all-around game, adding that the guy could score a little bit.

“I’m not into who’s better, but some who watched the matchup might say Torts wasn’t completely off his rocker when he said that,” Brunette said with a grin.

“It’s probably closer than people think.”

LINDBOHM CLEARS

Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm, who signed a one-year deal with the Panthers on Monday, cleared waivers on Tuesday and is free to join the team.

Lindbohm, 28, has 40 games of NHL experience with the St. Louis Blues and has also played in 171 AHL games with the Chicago Wolves.

He spent this season with Helsinki’s Jokerit but became available to sign with an NHL team after Jokerit pulled out of the KHL playoffs after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Last month, he helped Finland win its first Olympic Gold in men’s hockey.

“Petteri is a physical, experienced and capable defenseman who has succeeded on various levels of international hockey,” Florida GM Bill Zito said in a statement announcing the signing.

“He recently showcased what he can do contributing to Finland’s Gold Medal at the Olympics and we look forward to what he can add to our Panthers blueline.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

OTTAWA SENATORS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM/SiriusXM
  • Last season: Did not play
  • All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 56-40-4, ties
  • This season — Ottawa leads 1-0: Ottawa 8, @Florida 2 (Dec. 14)
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Jon Baldwin

George do you think we got a diamond in the rough with this Lindbohm signing? Did Zito get another great another really good player on the cheap?

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