Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Choosing Finland over Russia wasn’t tough for Aleksander Barkov

Washington Capitals v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 13: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers prepares for a face-off against the Washington Capitals at the BB&T Center on December 13, 2013 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Aleksander Barkov

Joel Auerbach

With a name like Aleksander Barkov, you’d think that he’d be fighting to play on the Russian men’s hockey team. Instead, he’ll suit up for Finland, and this profile explains why it wasn’t a difficult choice.

“Olympics are a very big thing for me,” Barkov said. “I am not sure what kind of role I will have, and it doesn’t matter for me – of course, I want to play big minutes, but that is the coach’s decision and I know there are very good players on the team.

“I will do everything that they ask to help Finland succeed.”

Considering the injuries that Finland suffered at center recently, the second pick of the 2013 NHL Draft could carry a larger workload than virtually any other teenage hockey player in Sochi. With Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula hurt, it’s likely that the 18-year-old at least moved up a bit in the Finnish depth chart.

Whatever role he receives, the Florida Panthers center is expected to be a big part of Finnish international hockey competition going forward.