"That’s his gift to us" - Paul Maurice elaborates on $80,000,000 centre's impact on Panthers' stellar Stanley Cup run

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
Paul Maurice elaborates on $80,000,000 centre's impact on Panthers' stellar Stanley Cup run

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice says Aleksander Barkov has had a major impact on the team. Barkov is the team's captain and has been a shutdown centre in the playoffs.

Barkov is in the middle of an eight-year, $80,000,000 contract signed in 2021. The former second-overall pick has been a key player for the Panthers. Although he does not score many goals, Barkov is well-known for his defensive skills and ability to shut down opponents.

Maurice says Barkov has been a massive gift to the Panthers.

“Some of the games that he's played this year where he's had the most impact, he doesn't show up on the score sheet,” Maurice said of Barkov, via Hockey News. “And then, what his gift is, he defines everyone else's game.
"‘I’m Aleksander Barkov, this is what I’m willing to do, this is how I’m going to play the game.’ You talk about quiet leadership, and I learned too, he’s a unique personality.
"But his consistency with that game, and the number of nights that he's not on the scoresheet necessarily, that everybody on the bench is going ‘oh my God, that guy is a player.’ That’s his gift to us,” Maurice added.

In Game 3, Barkov had a goal and an assist while being +2 in 19:51 of ice time. In the Finals, he's +4 with four points in three games. In the playoffs, Barkov has added seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 20 games.

Panthers on the brink of winning the Stanley Cup

The Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Thursday to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Florida is now one win away from hosting the Stanley Cup, but the Panthers know they can't get ahead of themselves.

“The job’s not finished,” forward Sam Bennett said, via NHL.com. “We’re not really thinking about that. Our whole mindset right now is recovering and getting prepared for the next game. I don’t think anyone can really look ahead. It’s still, we’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s our focus right now.”

Florida can host the Stanley Cup in Game 4 in Edmonton on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. It would be the first time that the Stanley Cup has been swept since 1998, when the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals.

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Edited by Krutik Jain
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