To really review Barkov’s season, you have to break it down into 3 sections. Coming back from injury after last year, he saw an expected slow start. As the season progressed and he gained confidence, Barkov’s play began to improve at a high arc. Once Jagr was onboard , Barkov basically went nuts and showed significant promise for the future.
Barkov has shown first and foremost that he is learning how to use his size and skill to control the puck. Especially once Jagr was around, you really saw him almost try to emulate his style of hoarding the puck in the corners and around the boards. He is also a good shot, meaning he doesn’t miss the net a ton. There are plenty of Panther players who shoot alot of ” high off the glass ” shots. Sasha is not one of them. Though nobody would mistake him for a tough guy, he seemed alot stronger along the boards this year , where maybe last year he was getting tossed around a bit. Overall he has shown excellent improvement and that should continue, especially if the Panthers can resign Jagr.
Barkov’s game has been solid to very solid in most aspects. Two areas stick out like sore thumbs however. Firstly is his seemingly stubborn desire to make that extra pass. Again, once Jagr came around this habit diminished, and it showed in his goal scoring. But it seems like his first thought is to pass the puck far too often, so hopefully another summer can cure some of that. He simply needs to shoot more!
The other area that’s not quite where it needs to be is in the faceoff circle. Simply put, to be a real deal 1st line center he needs to significantly improve in the circle. Considering the line he is on with Huberdeau & Jagr being such a puck possession based line, its imperative to their success that Barkov win more faceoffs. We even saw a few times where Bolland would come in for the faceoff & then go off so the full line could be on. Of course he is a young player and will improve with experience, but in my opinion its the #1 thing he should work on this summer.
In my opinion, Barkov can be a 75 point guy if he gets to play with Hub & Jagr for a couple more years. Maybe 30 goals – 45 assists range. I feel with his deferring personality he needs to be on a line with aggressive mates to reach his full potential, but no mistake this kid has a bright future!