Bruins Should Consider Barbashev Trade for the Right Price

One area of need that the Boston Bruins have at the trade deadline is forward depth. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney has been linked to multiple players, some big names, and some depth players as he looks to make a move.

In the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues are slowly falling out of the postseason picture and have already started moving players to get assets in return. On Feb. 9, they sent Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers and they are not going to be the last two players that GM Doug Armstrong trades in the next couple of weeks. He has Ryan O’Reilly who will get a lot of interest from contending teams, while Ivan Barbashev and Noel Acciari will also be pieces that most likely will be dealt.

Related: Bruins’ Recent Struggles Expose Trade Deadline Needs

Latest News & Highlight

The Bruins have been linked to Barbashev and he is what they are looking for and need for forward depth. He is versatile that he can move around in the lineup and trading for him makes sense, if the price is right.

Montgomery Coached Barbashev in St. Louis

After being let go by the Dallas Stars in 2019, Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery was hired on Craig Berube’s staff in St. Louis. Montgomery worked with the forwards and oversaw the breakouts of Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. Along with the Blues’ two young rising stars, he also worked with some veterans, including Barbashev.

Jim Montgomery Boston Bruins
Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins head coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Last season, Barbashev had a breakout season with 26 goals and 34 assists in 81 regular season games and there is no other coach on another team aside from Berube who would know how to use the 27-year-old in the right place and put him in a spot to succeed. This season, he has 10 goals and 27 points in 53 games for St. Louis and averaging just over 16 minutes a night.

Barbashev Makes Sense for the Right Price

Acquiring Barbashev would give the Bruins some bottom-six depth. The perfect spot for him would be on the third line with Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle. Trent Frederic has played well this season on the third line, but with Tomas Nosek out injured, he has been centering the fourth line as of late. The biggest reason the Bruins need to add more forward depth is because of the struggles of Craig Smith.

Ivan Barbashev St. Louis Blues
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After signing as a free agent in October of 2020 from the Nashville Predators, he has never been able to find consistency in Boston and became the 20-goal scorer that Sweeney was hoping he would after doing it in five of his first nine NHL seasons. This season, Smith has hit rock bottom in his Bruins tenure with just four goals and 10 points. Montgomery has certainly been patient with him, moving him around the lineup and even giving him some time on the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in Jake DeBrusk’s absence. The 98th pick in the 2009 Entry Draft by Nashville has been frustrated in every situation he’s been put in this season.

This is where Barbashev comes in and slotting the 33rd overall pick with Hall and Coyle could get him going as he did in 2021-22. He’s not going to be asked to come in and play top-six minutes, but he will still get plenty of chances to play on the third line with two talented players that can make plays happen with their speed and skill in Hall and Coyle.

Barbashev is in the final year of a two-year contract that carries an average annual value (AAV) of $2.25 million. This is where things get tricky. As a pending UFA, the return for him should not be as high as Tarasenko, but where does Sweeney draw the line? More than likely it’ll take a high draft pick or two to acquire him, maybe a prospect, but that’s where things get even more sticky for the Black and Gold. The problem for Sweeney is that he already traded his 2023 and 2024 second-round picks in last season’s deal that acquired Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks. 

Hampus Lindholm Boston Bruins
Hampus Lindholm, Boston Bruins (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

As a pending UFA, Sweeney under no circumstances should move his 2023 first-round pick for Barbashev. The best he could offer and the best he should offer is their third-round pick this upcoming summer. As far as a prospect goes, Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei should be off-limits in a trade for Barbeshev and instead, a lower-level prospect should be on the table. Heck, maybe Sweeney could get them to take Smith off his hands, but it’s unlikely they would do that. Boston would need the Blues to retain part of his $2.25 million salary to fit him under the cap for the rest of the season.

Barbashev would be a nice addition and can play all three forward spots. The Bruins have a versatile roster of players that can already do that, but he would be just another key player that can step up. If the asking price is right, Sweeney would make the deal, but this is one situation where overpaying is not a wise move to make as you could very easily lose him over the offseason. 

Substack Subscribe to the THW Daily and never miss the best of The Hockey Writers Banner