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05-30-2013, 10:33 PM
Seth Lake
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I've watched as many videos of Barkov in game play, not just highlight reels, as possible and think the skating concerns are very overblown.

As has been said, he is growing into his body and you can see from his junior days to his SM-liiga performance a difference in the smoothness of his stride as he has adjusted to his size.

Barkov is not going to blow past you from standing still in open space, however, he does have enough speed to put the puck around you or use his teammates to execute a give and go as he accelerates and blow right past you in that fashion. He has a powerful first step allowing him to jump into battles for loose pucks and position himself to come out of the battle with the puck using a combination of his size, stick length, and smarts.

Barkov has been playing against MEN for two seasons now as a 16 and 17 year-old. Common concerns about bigger guys that we've all seen dominate competition with their size as juniors only to underwhelm as adults should not be the concern here. Barkov isn't dominating the CHL against his peers (16-20 yo's), he's doing it in a league filled with players with an average age range from 19-28 and higher.

One thing that shows through even in battles away from the puck (there are three cool videos of him in an SM-liiga game from last season broken down to only see his shifts on YouTube) is that his compete level is very high and his situational knowledge is through the roof. Like every top player, Barkov sees the game a couple steps ahead of his opponents and that gives him a mental edge to go along with his physical skills.

See Barkov developing as a definite top-six center, most likely as a first line center, but see potential for him to rise his game during his development path into the franchise/elite category when all is said and done. Barkov is my pick at No. 4...

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