Paul Maurice has a very simple coaching philosphy when it comes to Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov.

“I don’t know if I’ve got this right but what’s that line for a doctor? Rule No. 1: Do no harm,” Maurice said Monday morning ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ll take it to an extreme and use another player. I had Paul Coffey, so at that point in time, he had only had four Stanley Cups and three Norris trophies. I probably wasn’t adding a lot to his game as the head coach.”

The same can be said for Barkov, who is in his 11th season with the Panthers and sixth as the captain. The Finnish forward is firmly in the Conn Smythe discussion with six goals, three of which were game-winners, and 19 points in 18 games during the playoffs.

Look no further than Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, when Barkov registered a pair of assists and was plus-2 during the Panthers’ 3-0 Saturday night. He also won 50 per cent of his faceoffs and logged just over 21 minutes of ice time, including 2:47 while short-handed as the Panthers were a perfect 0-for-3 on the penalty kill against the high-octane Oilers featuring the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Barkov also finished the regular season scoring 23 goals and 80 points in 73 games and earned his second Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward.

Even the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, heaped high praise on Barkov while appearing on Sportsnet’s panel during the first intermission of Game 1. Gretzky reflected on his first Stanley Cup Final appearance back in 1983 as his Oilers team was swept by the New York Islanders.

“I just said to my wife sitting there during the first period, I said, ‘No. 16 is the best defensive hockey player I’ve seen since Bryan Trottier,’” Gretzky said. “I got Bryan Trottier four games and what did I get? No goals. And what did we get? No Cup. … Barkov makes an unreal pass and he’s good offensively, too, like Trottier was.”

Barkov was quite grateful to receive such a compliment, especially from Gretzky.