With the second pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, the Florida Panthers selected center Aleksander Barkov from Tappara of the Finnish Elite League.
Barkov, who holds dual citizenship in Russia and Finland but suits up for the Finnish international team, has spent the last two seasons playing for Tappara, while also representing his country at the World Junior Championships.
He is the youngest player ever to score a point in the history of the Finnish Elite League, and the second-youngest player ever to score a goal at the World Juniors. Barkov had 48 points in 53 games with Tappara this season. He put up seven points in six games at the WJCs.
The Tampere, Finland native is ranked No. 1 among all European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Barkov is ranked No. 5 among all skaters by ISS and No. 4 among all prospects by TSN's Craig Button. ISS projects him as a player comparable to Ryan Getzlaf.
The top rated European skater by NHL central scouting, Barkov has been a phenom his entire hockey carreer, first playing in the SM-Liiga at the age of 16, where he was the youngest player to ever score a point. (In fact, he'd put up 7 goals and 9 assists in 32 games - not bad for someone who had his first pro season before he could legally drive a car.) In his World Juniors debut a few months later, Barkov was the second youngest player in IIHF history to score a goal when he lit the lamp against Slovakia in the quarter finals.
At 6"3 210 Barkov is probably already physically mature enough to handle the rough and tumble of the NHL. it seems likely, unless the team which drafts him is cautious, that he will be stepping into either the AHL or NHL next season. If he can handle the SM-Liiga and produce like he did he's definitely ready for the AHL at the least.
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