Barkov On The Panthers and No. 2 Pick

ALEKSANDER BARKOV spoke to the media Sunday at the 2013 NHL Draft about the Florida Panthers and the number two selection overall.

Q. What’s your reaction of being second overall? Is it a little bit of a surprise?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I don’t know, but I’m very excited and happy to be a part of the Florida Panthers.

Q. Did you feel their interest towards you at all during the Combine and weeks leading to the draft?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Yeah, they told me yesterday that they are very interested in me and they maybe will pick me. Now they take me, and I’m very happy.

Q. What does it mean to you to be No. 2?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Very much, but that’s not enough. I want to play in NHL, and this is the first step to the NHL in my career.

Q. Joe Nieminen is here with you. What has he meant to your development as a hockey player?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Very much. I trained with him last summer, and we played in the same line, and he gave me a lot of advices and passes.

Q. What do you think he can bring to the Florida Panthers? They have a desperate need of offense.
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Yeah, I’m big center forward, and I can play in two-way game in power play and penalty killing and take face-offs.

Q. You said you liked the Florida weather. Are you looking forward to that?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Yeah, very much.

Q. Do you plan on coming right over next year, or will you go back and play in Finland again?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I think I will come here and play for Florida if my shoulder is in good shape.

Q. When do you think that’ll be mended, your shoulder?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: It’s a very personal thing, but I think I will be ready for the season.

Q. Did Dale tell you he’d like you to play on the Panthers this season?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Maybe. (Laughter).

Q. How much do you think the experience of playing in Finland in the men’s league helped you as far as development?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Yeah, I played already two years against men in the Finnish Elite League, very good league and very good players, and I think it helps me very much.

Q. Do you think because you played against (indiscernible), who’s Finnish, that will help you get used to the locker room, things like that?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Yeah, I think so, of course. He is Finnish, and I am Finnish, too, and we know the language, and we can communicate with him.

Q. You’re born in Russia, though, right?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: No, born in Finland.

Q. Your dad was born in Russia?

Q. What influence was he on your hockey life?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Of course, very much, he and my mother put me on the skates and gave me a stick, and they helped me very much in my career, and I love them.

Q. Who were some of your idols growing up?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I had a lot of players, all NHL. I was a very big fan of NHL, and there was maybe Joe Sakic and Eric Lindros and all the players like them.

Q. Do you model your game after them?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: No, I just play my own game.

Q. When you heard your name at No. 2, were you expecting that or were you a little surprised? A lot of people thought they might pick Seth Jones then.
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Maybe a little bit, but I was so excited.

Q. Is it a dream come true?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Dream comes true.

Q. For the Panther fans who haven’t seen you on the ice, what kind of game are you going to bring when they do see you playing?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I’m a big two-way center forward. I can play power play, penalty killing and take face-offs.

Q. What are your expectations in terms of next year? Are you able to get on the ice and contribute at the NHL level?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I think so. I will come here if my shoulder is in good shape.

Q. Is your mom an athlete of some sort?

Q. Were you nervous today?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Maybe 10 seconds after, but not then.

Q. In your meetings with the Panthers did you have a good sense that they were interested and might take you at No. 2?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Yeah, Dale said that he is very interested in me and they maybe will pick me.

Q. In terms of your shoulder, where are you with your health?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I am good now, but I can do very much things. Now I can do with rubber, training and little weight training, but maybe next month I can do it more.

Q. Have you ever been to Florida?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: No, but I’m very happy to be there.

Q. What’s your vision of what it’s like there?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: Very much sun and good beaches and warm weather.

Q. Do you know anything about the Panthers, their team, their players?
ALEKSANDER BARKOV: I know we have very good players, one Finnish player, and Johnny Huberdeau who won the Calder Trophy, he’s a very good player.

Q. You speak Russian, right?

Source: NHL Media