A budding star at center with size and talent in spades, Aleksander Barkov has garnered Selke Trophy votes in three of his four seasons and cleared 50 points in two straight campaigns, but he's been unable to stay healthy thus far in his young career. Barkov sat out 21 games to injury last year, bringing his career total to 76 missed contests -- almost a full season's worth of development lost. Even so, he's already one of the best and most reliable young power forwards in the game when healthy, and the Finn is certainly the undisputed No. 1 center on the Panthers. He forms a fantastic scoring duo with Jonathan Huberdeau, but it wouldn't hurt to see Barkov shoot the puck more, and both top-line stars will have to stay healthy to help the Panthers bounce back after a nightmare season.
Barkov (back) will be in the lineup for Sunday's preseason clash with Tampa Bay, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The 2013 first rounder has been dealing with a back injury since the tail-end of the 2016-17 season, limiting him to just 61 games. Though Barkov has incredible potential, he's never played more than 71 games in a season due to a litany of injuries he's suffered in his four-year career. If Barkov's able to stay healthy, he could see his name amongst the top-10 scorers when the end of the season rolls around.
Barkov (back) is making positive strides in his rehab, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel reports, adding that the center won't require surgery and is already preparing for next season. Though he missed 21 games, Barkov was a force to be reckoned with when he did play -- he fashioned 52 points, including 14 on the power play, to complement a robust plus-13 rating. He didn't miss a beat when the Panthers made an in-season coaching change from Gerard Gallant to Tom Rowe. While Rowe won't be back next year, fantasy owners with stock in Barkov can confide in how the Finn seems completely unfazed by personnel changes or the challenge of working past injuries.
Barkov suffered from a back malady for a majority of the 2016-17 campaign but doesn't anticipate that he'll need to go under the knife, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. The 21-year-old produced at around the same level this season as he did last, but his absence from 21 games was certainly a big reason why the Panthers missed out on playoff hockey. Barkov has proven to be a top offensive center when healthy, but he's yet to play more than 71 games since his career began in 2013-14.
Barkov (upper body) will miss Sunday's game at Washington. The 21-year-old had a solid year with 52 points in 61 games, but missing the last five games of the season could leave a sour taste in the mouths of owners. With the Panthers eliminated from playoff contention, Barkov won't return until next season.
Barkov (upper body) appears to be an injured scratch for Saturday's game against the Senators, NHL.com reports. Barkov's final chance to return will come Sunday on the road against the Capitals, but we wouldn't count on that happening with the Cats out of the playoff picture. Assuming he sits that one out, the talented pivot will finish with 21 goals, 31 assists and a plus-13 rating through 61 games -- that's only a modest decline from last season and was produced in five fewer contests.
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