Even though he missed time due to injury and is still recovering, Aleksander Barkov believes he's ready to make the jump to the NHL right away.
Barkov missed the sm-Liiga playoffs (Finland) because of a shoulder injury and was unable to work out at the NHL Combine in Toronto earlier but that won't stop him from being a top Draft pick as he is the number one overall prospect ranked for European skaters according to Central Scouting for the 2013 NHL Draft being held at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on June 30th.
The Tampere native is a second generation hockey player to play professionally. His father Alexander Barkov played professional hockey from 1983-2004, as well as for the Soviet Union, and finished his playing career with Tappara where he played 10 seasons for the Tampere. That, coincidently enough, is where the younger Barkov has become a dominant player among athletes much older than him. Barkov Sr. also played for the Soviet Union and it is a rare combination to see someone with a Finnish and Russian background.
Born in Tampere, Barkov is a rare combination with a Finnish and Russian background. Both countries are known for outstanding hockey so Barkov comes from a deep hockey background, and he says his father is very helpful despite not seeing each other on a daily basis.
"He's now in Russia but he calls me every day and text messages," said Barkov.
While they talk, the advice from his father is quite simple as he looks to become the first member of the family to play in the NHL.
"Just play," said Barkov on his father's best advice.
Barkov, 17 has played center in Tappara and he scored almost a point a game this past season while also battling injuries. He had 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games in Finland's top professional league, his second season of playing against men.
"It helps very much," said Barkov to reporters at the Combine. "In the NHL, you play against men and I have already played two years against men in Finland at a high level."
Barkov is a very good skater, has a good hockey IQ, excellent hands, good shooter, and is a great playmaker which helped put him at the top of the European rankings. When asked to compare his game to a current NHL hockey player, Barkov compared his play to a lot like Anze Koptiar of the Los Angeles Kings. Barkov, a lot like Kopitar, was first noticed for having excellent offensive ability but he has really made an effort to try and excel on both sides of the puck.
"Of course my physical game. I can play a two way game," said Barkov when asked on how far he's come in his game. "I was bad on two way game two years ago but I played well last year."