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2024 Stanley Cup Final

The Great Sasha: Wayne Gretzky Has High Praise for Barkov

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Barkov gretzky

Florida Panthers captain Sasha Barkov has long been considered the most underrated player in the NHL — but Wayne Gretzky is certainly impressed with him.

Joining the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, Gretzky had high praise for Barkov, comparing his defensive prowess to Hall of Fame center Bryan Trottier of the famed New York Islanders dynasty.

“No. 16 is the best defensive hockey player I’ve seen since Bryan Trottier,” Gretzky said.

Before Gretzky won the Stanley Cup four times with Edmonton, he and the Oilers were swept out of the Final by Trottier and the Islanders in 1983.

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Gretzky was held to no goals with four assists in those four games as he was blanketed by Trottier.

To make a comparison, this is Connor McDavid’s first appearance in the Cup Final.

He, at least in Game 1, has to contend with Barkov.

In Florida’s 3-0 win on Saturday night, McDavid had six shots on goal but, as evidenced by the final score, did not get one through.

“I got Bryan Trottier for four game and what did I get? No goals,” Gretzky said. “And what did we get? No Cup. You learn from that, right? Both of those guys are unreal players … Conner has his work cut out with that young man.”

On Sunday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale, Barkov was informed of Gretzky’s comments.

He appeared humbled by them. Which was not surprising.

“Wow, yeah, coming from him especially means a lot,’’ Barkov said. “Everyone knows what he meant to the game of hockey.

“When you hear people, especially a guy like that, say stuff like that, it obviously means a lot. I appreciate that.”

Florida coach Paul Maurice said Sunday that while Barkov is fantastic defensively — his two Selke trophies bear that out — he is more than that to the Panthers.

“I don’t view Barkov as a shutdown center,’’ Maurice said. “because he doesn’t hit the ice with the idea of, ‘this is all I will do.’ He’s wired first to think defensively, team hockey first, but he’s a pretty gifted dynamic man as well.

“He carries that weight of having to do both. There’s a challenge to it but as you will see, there’s always a give and take. We need Barkov also to push the offense along, to make the play he made on the first goal. it’s not a sit-back gap game where all he does is grind it out. He’s far more gifted than that.”

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

2024 STANLEY CUP FINAL
EDMONTON OILERS VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS 
GAME 2
Florida leads Best-of-7 Series 1-0
  • When: Monday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0; Game 2: Edmonton at Florida, Monday; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday; Game 4:Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*: Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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