Aleksander Barkov

Get to know a draft pick — Aleksander Barkov

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Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Aleksander Barkov (C)

Height: 6’2″  Weight: 205  Shoots: Left

Team: Tappara Tampere (SM-liiga)

Country: Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 European skater

What kind of player is he?

Barkov is the brand of player that makes you feel OK about not landing a Top 3 pick in this year’s draft. At his size, he’s got an NHL build right now and as a center, that makes him a prized player. With Nashville sitting at fourth, if Seth Jones doesn’t fall to them, they’ll likely happily take Barkov off the board.

This past season for Tappara, he had 21 goals and 27 assists and was 9th in the SM-liiga, Finland’s top pro league, in points with 48. He was by far the best player amongst draft prospects in that league and offers the brand of game that could see him start in the NHL immediately next season.

Downside? He had a shoulder issue last season that he says is getting better. That shouldn’t be enough to scare away anyone who might want him.

Quotable:

“He’s been described as NHL ready and I think that would be very accurate. He’s ready to step in and play. The game comes easy to him. He’s got size, he’s got skill and he’s very productive.” — Tony MacDonald, the Carolina Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting (via Chip Alexander).

“Big body, shields puck well, big horse, GREAT in Sundsvall, man among boys, showed he can play with men.”  — Mark Seidel – North American Central Scouting

“He shows a ton of upside as a forward who could walk onto an NHL roster immediately and help a team at the NHL level right away. He has a big upside and whichever team selects Aleksander will be very happy on June 30th.” — Mark Edwards – HockeyProspect.com

For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.