Flames Have Affordable Trading Option on Blues

Much has been made of several players who seem primed to be on the move before this year’s upcoming trade deadline. Patrick Kane, Jakob Chychrun, Bo Horvat and others have received plenty of recognition, several of which have been linked at one time or another to the Calgary Flames amongst a number of other teams. One player who hasn’t gotten that recognition, however, is Ivan Barbashev of the St. Louis Blues.

Barbashev, 27, is in the final season of a two-year deal that carries a very team-friendly $2.25 million cap hit. While not a guarantee to get dealt, he is playing on a Blues team that has struggled to live up to expectations this season and has several other pending free agents popping up in trade rumors, such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly.

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In a recent article published by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, Barbashev was one of 25 players listed as a potential trade candidate ahead of the deadline. Though he is in the second tier of forwards rumored to be on the block, his affordability, paired with his high-end skill, will make him of great interest to a number of teams, one of which should be the Flames.

Barbashev an Intriguing Fit for the Flames

Throughout training camp and into the regular season, Flames general manager Brad Treliving has been scanning the market for a top-nine winger with skill. The issue with that is the Flames don’t have a ton of cap space to work with, currently sitting approximately $2.6 million under the league’s maximum salary.

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

That lack of cap space is what makes a player like Barbashev an attractive option for this Flames team. While he has spent some time at the center ice position throughout his career, he seems more comfortable on the wing, in particular on the left side. That left side happens to be an area the Flames could use an upgrade in, as they have been relying on Milan Lucic as of late to fill a top-six role on the left side. While not meant as a shot at Lucic, the skilled Blues winger would immediately provide an upgrade in that regard.

Barbashev Would Help Improve Flames Offense

Though it took Barbashev some time in the NHL to prove how good he could be, the Blues clearly knew what he was capable of, holding onto him for parts of five seasons despite rather underwhelming offensive outputs. In fact, they even chose to protect him in the NHL’s latest expansion draft over Tarasenko, proving how highly they have valued him in the past. Last season, their high hopes for him finally panned out, as he recorded career highs with 26 goals and 60 points in 81 outings.

Like most on the Blues roster, Barbashev has struggled to continue scoring at last year’s pace, as he has just five goals and 16 points in 38 outings in 2022-23. For whatever reason, his team’s overall struggles have seemed to weigh on him, as he appears to be playing with much less confidence than the season prior, but make no mistake, his skill level remains extremely high.

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A change in scenery could prove very beneficial for Barbashev, especially if it were to be with the Flames, who, as mentioned, have been in search of a skilled top-nine winger. There is a legitimate case to be made that, if moved, he could start off on the left side of Elias Lindholm’s line. If not, he would presumably slot in on the second line alongside Nazem Kadri. Either way, both lines would given him a great opportunity to get back to producing like he did a season ago, and it would benefit a Flames team who is still searching for more chemistry throughout their entire lineup.

Ivan Barbashev St. Louis Blues
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

What also makes Barbashev an interesting option for the Flames is the fact that, due to his down year, he likely wouldn’t cost a ton to acquire right now, perhaps nothing more than a second-round draft pick along with a mid-level prospect. Depending on how he would pan out with the Flames for the remainder of the season, he would also be a potential option to re-sign, as he could once again sign a rather team-friendly salary.

Plenty of Players for Flames to Consider

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are many players who are expected to get dealt ahead of the trade deadline. That means that Treliving will have plenty to consider as the days pass, as it seems more likely than not he will make at least one move before March 3. Given where his club is at in terms of cap space and needs, Barbashev is one that he should be strongly considering heading toward that date.