A fan looking for a player among the top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft that is physically ready to move to the NHL next season might look no further than Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov, the 6'2”, 205-pound center who played for Tappara in Finland's top league, the SM-liiga.
But those anticipating Barkov's rapid arrival to the NHL may have to wait until 2014-15 as the young center has signed a contract extension with Tappara for the 2013-14 season.
Barkov spent this season and most of last season playing with and against mostly veteran players in the SM-liiga, and did not look out of place despite the fact that he doesn't turn 18 until September. The native of Tampere, Finland finished ninth overall in league scoring, netting 21 goals and adding 27 assists for 48 points in 53 games. Barkov tacked on five more assists in five playoff games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
The younger Barkov is the son of Alexander Barkov, a forward who had a hockey career that spanned 22 seasons, including 11 seasons in his native Russia, plus a stop in Italy before playing out the remainder of his career in Finland.
Although Barkov is the top-ranked European prospect for this draft according to Central Scouting, his name has rarely been mentioned as a potential first overall selection. That may be more a tribute to the abilities of the duo that has been battling it out for the top slot over the course of the 2012-13 season, defenseman Seth Jones and center Nathan MacKinnon, than it is to any shortcomings in Barkov's game. But Barkov is no slouch, and could certainly be in the mix when talking about the best players from this draft a few years from now.
Due to his injury, Barkov took part in only a limited portion of the testing at the 2013 NHL Combine. But he was available for a media scrum on the first day of testing, some of which is captured in this Hockey's Future video.
Hockey's Future will be dripping out video interviews from the 2013 NHL Combine over the next few weeks as part of our coverage of the 2013 NHL Draft. You can keep up with these videos as they are released by visiting the HF home page on a regular basis, or by following the HF Twitter feed at @HockeysFuture.