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Sasha Barkov is a Florida Guy. The Panthers want to keep it that way

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Barkov Sasha Panthers Florida
Sasha Barkov becomes the new captain of the Florida Panthers before the 2018-19 season as Derek MacKenzie, now an assistant coach with the team, hands over his captainship. // Photo by @GeorgeRichards

One of Sasha Barkov’s first introductions to South Florida was not the most pleasant. Not long after being drafted second overall by the Panthers in 2013, Barkov had to go and get his new Florida drivers license.

It took him two tries to get it. Fun.

“I don’t have a car but I have the license,” Barkov said just as his first training camp was starting.

“I failed the first time because I didn’t understand the questions.”

Barkov did not let that little hiccup jade his thoughts on his new home.

From his first introduction to Florida, Barkov said it felt like home.

“I like it here in Florida,” Barkov said. “It’s nice. It’s a place I’m going to enjoy living in. Everyone is nice, I have a lot of friends already. They’ve helped me very much.”

His affection for the place has only grown over the years.

And, Florida digs him as well.

Since he first arrived on the scene, Barkov has evolved into one of the top centers in the entire National Hockey League.

On Sunday, Barkov was named one of three finalists (Patrice Bergeron, Mark Stone) for the Frank J. Selke Trophy which goes to the NHL forward who “demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.’’

Barkov, who ended his season with 26 goals and 58 points in 50 games, is the favorite to win it.

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