Forward led Florida in scoring last season, replaces MacKenzie



Aleksander Barkov was named the 10th captain in Florida Panthers history Monday.

The 23-year-old forward was an alternate captain for home games last season. He replaces forward Derek MacKenzie, who was captain for the past two seasons.

"This is the biggest honor I've ever had in my life," Barkov said. "Being with this team, the team that drafted me, and having an opportunity to be captain is amazing."


The Panthers didn't announce the rest of the leadership group, but Barkov said it will be a team effort.

"Me and the guys are going to do this together," he said. "I may have the 'C,' but this is about us in the room doing this together."

Barkov led the Panthers with 78 points (27 goals, 51 assists) in 79 games last season. He finished third in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy behind forwards William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights and Ryan O'Reilly, then with the Buffalo Sabres.

Barkov also played in his first NHL All-Star Game and finished second among NHL forwards in average ice time per game at 22:04, one second fewer than Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings.

Selected by the Panthers with the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Barkov has 249 points (100 goals, 149 assists) in 331 games.

"He's our best player on and off the ice," general manager Dale Tallon said. "His work ethic is second to none and he's only 23-years-old."

Coach Bob Boughner said naming Barkov captain came after a discussion with MacKenzie.

"I talked to [MacKenzie] about this a while ago, he agreed," Boughner said. "We feel the organization has built around a core group. It's hard to ask them to lead right away. Now that they're four- or five-year pros and have learned from veterans like Willie Mitchell and Derek MacKenzie, it's their time."

MacKenzie, 37, said he'd do his best to support Barkov.

"I feel honored to be a part of this and to continue to watch this team grow," he said. "Barkov has been a leader on the ice and he's one of the best players in the League.

"I want to do what's best. With things winding down for me, I just want to win. I'll do whatever it takes to help us win. … I'm looking forward to being with this team as we take that next step."