By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Sports Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Aleksander Barkov and the Florida Panthers have agreed on an $80 million, eight-year contract extension with an annual salary cap hit of $10 million, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
Barkov and the Panthers had been working for several days to complete the deal, said the people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms were not immediately released by the team.
Barkov, Florida’s captain, is entering his ninth year with the Panthers; only Jonathan Huberdeau, entering his 10th season, has been with Florida longer. Barkov has scored 181 goals for Florida, seven shy of matching Olli Jokinen’s franchise record, and he trails only Huberdeau for the Panthers’ all-time leads in assists (330-284) and points (498-465).
The contract is the largest in terms of total value in Panthers history, topping the $70 million, seven-year deal for goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in 2019. Barkov becomes the 12th active player in the NHL with a contract with a total value of at least $80 million.
It also means Florida’s core is almost entirely locked up now for multiple seasons. Forwards Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari and Ryan Lomberg can be free agents next summer, and Huberdeau’s next extension is likely a year away — but for the most part, the Panthers know who they can have where for years to come.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
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