Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, Tomas Kopecky headed to Winter Olympics
Florida Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov will get a shot at gold after all. The 18-year-old Finn received the call to join his countrymen at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Also headed to Sochi is Panthers winger Tomas Kopecky, who will represent Slovakia.
Since the rookie still meets the requirements to compete in the World Junior Championship, the Tampere, Finland native could have been part of his country’s 3-2 gold-medal victory over Sweden this past weekend. It marked Finland’s first championship at the tournament since 1998.
The Panthers, however, were reluctant to release Barkov for the event given his impressive rookie season thus far.
The second-overall pick in 2013 leads Florida with 22 points. Barkov shares the NHL lead among rookies in assists with 15. He is tied for sixth among his peers and fifth amongst Finnish NHLers in scoring.
Earlier this season, Barkov became the youngest player to score in the NHL’s post-expansion era, tallying his first goal at the age of 18 years and 31 days.
Barkov has registered points in 10 of his last 12 games. In that stretch, he has amassed three goals and 10 assists. Barkov is currently riding a six-game points streak.