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Aleksander Barkov happy with Panthers' young core

Forward says Jonathan Huberdeau's contract extension bodes well for Florida's future

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

HELSINKI -- Count Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov among the fans of left wing Jonathan Huberdeau's new contract.

On Wednesday, Huberdeau signed a six-year, $35.4 million contract extension with the Panthers, an average annual value of $5.9 million, making him the sixth Florida player 25 years old or younger to be signed for at least the next five seasons. He joins Barkov, forwards Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad in that category.

In addition, defensemen Keith Yandle (29) and Jason Demers (28) also have contracts that will keep them in Florida for at least the next five seasons. Yandle signed a seven-year contract on June 24.

"It's good to have a big core on the team, especially our core guys," Barkov said prior to playing for Team Finland against Team Sweden in a World Cup of Hockey 2016 pretournament game at Hartwall Arena on Thursday.

Huberdeau's new contract won't start until next season. Ekblad is signed through the 2024-25 season. Barkov, Trochek and Smith are each signed through 2021-22. Bjugstad is signed through 2020-21.

Video: Jonathan Huberdeau signs long-term contract

Florida won the Atlantic Division with 103 points last season, the most in Panthers history.

"We are signed for a long time and we are young guys," Barkov said. "We like to be with each other in the locker room and on the ice. We like to play together. I think we have a good future."

Barkov credited Panthers owner Vincent Viola and his family for believing in the young core.

"We have good owners," Barkov said. "The last three years they have seen everything in our team and I think they are doing everything right, a great job marketing and everything. Of course it helps a lot when the owners want to win and do everything for us."

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