Leading into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft on June 30 in Newark, N.J., nashvillepredators.com is going to provide an in-depth look at each of this year's top six prospects.
This week's edition looks at Tappara forward, Aleksander (Sasha) Barkov.
6-3, 209 lbs. • Center • Shoots: Left
Born: Sept. 2, 1995
Ranking: No. 1 European Skater
Prospect at-a-glance: The big, Finnish-born center had his season cut short due to a shoulder injury during the playoffs, but the 17-year old showed he's a consistent two-way player while playing against more veteran talent in the SM-Liiga this season – he posted 21 goals, 48 points in 53 games for Tappara.
Nashville Predators Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty’s player synopsis: “He is an excellent two-way player and very well rounded for such a young guy,” Kealty said. “He possesses the puck very well and he can contribute at both ends of the ice because of his size and his style of play. He has great vision and a great ability to make plays. He played in the Finnish Elite League at 17-years old – he doesn’t even turn 18 until September. When you consider what he’s accomplished at that level and at that age – he was a point-per-game player – when you add all that up he is a terrific prospect.”
“The big Finnish center plays a strong, two-way game,” TSN Analyst Bob McKenzie said. “He produced and excelled playing against men in the Finnish Elite League.”
“He’s got a real mature game about him,” Dennis MacInnis, scouting director for International Scouting Service told the Toronto Star. “He’s got an advanced two-way game. He’s already playing against men, so he’s very mature. There are only about two or three or four guys in this draft at the most who can step into the NHL next year, and he’d be one of them, depending on who drafts him.”
"He's smart, cool, effective and creative," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "He's a two-way strength who sees the ice very well. His father was a great player who played in Russia and then spent 10 years with Tappara. Alexander Jr. plays the same style as his dad did."
“Aleksander Barkov possesses the rare combination of size and outstanding technical skills along with an ability to quickly analyze situations. He is very mature in terms of hockey sense at an early age and has had success playing against much older players in Finland’s SM-Liiga. His skating ability is still developing but is not a weakness. Does not play an abrasive game but has the size and strength to withstand the rigors of the more physical North American game.” – Hockey’s Future
Something you may not know: Barkov is fluent in Finnish, Russian and English. His father, Alexander, played professional hockey in Russia, Italy and Finland, and serves as an assistant coach for Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL. His mother played basketball for the Russian National team.
Comparable player(s): Mikko Koivu (Minnesota), Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles)
USAToday: Ranking the Top 10 Forwards in the 2013 NHL Draft
Hockey Prospectus: Top 100 Draft Prospects: 1-5
NHL.com: Barkov Believes He Can Be A Top 7 Pick
ESPN.com: Prospects under the most scrutiny
NHL.com: Jones, Barkov Top Central Scouting’s Final Rankings
NHL.com: Barkov, Nichushkin Lead European Prospects
TheStar.com: NHL draft: Valeri Nichushkin, Aleksander Barkov intriguing alternatives to Big Three
The Hockey News: Barking up the Right Tree
NHL.com: Barkov, Lindholm top European Prospects
Video: Hockey's Future: Aleksander Barkov at the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine
Video: Youtube.com: Aleksander Barkov Jr. #16 Tappara
Video: Youtube.com: Aleksander Barkov Highlights