Barkov (knee) returns to Panthers practice, could play soon

Aleksander Barkov returned to Florida Panthers practice on Friday for the first time since injuring his knee on Jan. 21, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

The next step is to figure out when he can play again.

Panthers head coach Peter Horachek provided a mixed message, telling the Sun-Sentinel that he’d like to see Barkov get a few skates in, yet not totally closing the door to a return against Columbus on Saturday. It appears that the most likely scenario calls for a Tuesday return.

The 18-year-old acknowledges that he doesn’t feel 100 percent just yet, so maybe that Tuesday target date is more realistic. More will likely be known as tomorrow’s game approaches.

Barkov has been a quick study at the NHL level, collecting 24 points in 50 games. His best flourish came when he scored 10 points in nine games from Dec. 17 – Jan. 6.

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