With all scenarios on the table regarding what a potential return of the 2019-20 NHL season would look like, Florida Panthers star Alexsander Barkov believes his team should get a shot to compete for the Stanley Cup.
"I don't think it would be right if we’re left out," Barkov told The Athletic's George Richards. "We are close to a playoff spot and have 13 games left. We just started playing as well as we did before the All-Star break, the bye week. We were feeling pretty good, playing with confidence."
After sitting in a playoff position for most of the season, the Panthers currently find themselves three points behind both the second wild-card spot and third place in the Atlantic Division. However, they also had games in hand on some of the teams just ahead of them when the campaign was suspended.
When asked what he hopes would happen if the season does resume, Barkov indicated he favors one of the more creative possibilities.
"The best-case scenario is probably the (play-in) tournament," he said. "Thank God I don’t have to decide anything. I'm just here, waiting to see what the league does with the season and trying to stay healthy.”
While hockey is on his mind, Barkov also remains aware of the bigger picture and understands the severity of the situation.
"Obviously, this thing sucks and health is first. I think the league made the right decision, the world has been making the right decisions," Barkov said of the measures being taken due to the coronavirus pandemic. "We need to keep people inside, stay away from each other right now. That’s a good thing for everyone. We’ll take a little break and we can be back sooner than later.”
Before the NHL season was suspended, the 24-year-old Barkov had recorded 20 goals and 42 assists in 66 games.