The Vegas Golden Knights have acquired forward Ivan Barbashev from the St. Louis Blues. In return, the Blues will receive 20-year-old center Zach Dean.
Barbashev has spent his entire career with the Blues since being drafted in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. In seven seasons, he’s scored 78 goals, 100 assists, and 178 points in 410 career games. He had a career year in 2021-22, setting highs in games played (81), goals (26), assists (34), and points (60). His numbers this season are down (10 goals, 19 assists in 59 games), which is likely a byproduct of his shooting percentage (S%) regressing to the mean (2021-22: 23.4%; 2022-23: 11.0%). Barring an extension, he will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. At 27 years old, the versatile forward should have many suitors this summer.
Barbashev’s Impact on the Golden Knights
In showing proficiency all over the ice, Barbashev brings versatility to the top nine of the Golden Knights. He’s just as effective as a center as he is playing the wing, although he’s spent much more time on the wing due to the Blues being deep down the middle during his tenure. He plays a true 200-foot game and can contribute equally 5-on-5 as on both special teams units.
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Physicality is one of the major hallmarks of his game. At the time of the trade, he led all Blues skaters in hits with 132. In 2021-22, the aforementioned career year, he also led the team in hits with 160. He lacks a true difference-making shot, but tends to get most of his chances from the low slot, proving he can be effective down low and in front of the net. His play style resembles more of a middle-six player, likely best served on the third line, but also one who can play up the lineup effectively if needed.
The Return for the Blues
Dean was Vegas’ first-round pick (30th overall) in 2021. In 38 games this season for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), he’s scored 24 goals and 49 points in only 38 games. He’s regarded as a hard-working two-way forward who is equally capable on both ends of the ice. At 6 feet and 176 pounds, he has just as much of a chance to stick at center or bounce out to one of the wings at the NHL level.
For the Blues, getting Dean is an adequate return for Barbashev. He’ll continue to finish out this season in the QMJHL and will likely be in St. Louis for training camp in the fall. He’ll easily slide into their top 10 prospects.
With Mark Stone landing on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) this week, a massive hole in Vegas’ lineup is now filled with the acquisition of Barbashev. He’s not as big as Stone and doesn’t have the same scoring touch, but he can take on the same role of a physical, two-way power forward. The Golden Knights once again are getting creative with the cap for their annual playoff push as he’ll join former teammate Alex Pietrangelo in the desert.