NHL News: Panthers working on Aleksander Barkov extension; and Duncan Keith felt pressured into taking vaccine

nhl news barkov
Apr 17, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) and Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) talk against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Aleksander Barkov is a pending UFA for the summer of 2022. He would easily be a $10 million dollar player if he hits the market. The Panthers want to head that possibility off as soon as possible, and a recent report indicated that GM Bill Zito was confident he’d get it done before the start of the season.

The clock is ticking on that deadline.

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NHL News: Panthers making progress on new deal for Barkov

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is reporting today that the two sides are sill working on an extension. “Per sources, talks are progressing slowly, but there is optimism a deal can be reached by the start of the reg-season (which is not currently considered a deadline),” he tweeted.

Barkov, 25, became the fifth player in league annals to win both the Selke and Lady Byng awards in his career. The eight-year veteran posted a team-high 26 goals along with 32 assists for 58 points, second on the Panthers, in 50 games this season. This marked his sixth straight season scoring 20 or more goals. He led the Panthers in scoring in 2018-19, his best season, with 96 points (35 goals, 61 assists).

Duncan Keith felt pressured into getting vaccinated

duncan keith
Apr 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) looks to pass the puck against the Nashville Predators during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers defenseman, Duncan Keith was asked about his decision to get the COVID vaccine. He noted that he felt pressured from the NHLPA to do so.

“As the summer went along there was pressure from the PA to get it, would have been nice to have more push back from the PA to support the guys that felt strong in their belief for different reasons wether to get it or not,” Keith said per TSN’s Ryan Rishaug. “To have to basically take the vaccine to play hockey was frustrating in a lot of ways but at the same time … I’m excited about this opportunity and this challenge here”

Keith missed the star of camp after receiving his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and needing to quarantine. The 38 year-old defenseman, was traded to the Oilers in July after playing 16 seasons and winning three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks.