Grading the Golden Knights’ Trade for Ivan Barbashev

On Sunday (Feb. 26), the Vegas Golden Knights made their first notable move of the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, as they acquired Ivan Barbashev from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for prospect Zach Dean.

It is well-known that the Golden Knights are aiming to improve their forward group, and they have started that process by landing Barbashev. The Blues, on the other hand, have moved the pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) and landed a promising prospect in the process. Here are the grades for both teams.

Barbashev Improves Golden Knights’ Forward Group

The Golden Knights have cap space to work with because Mark Stone is on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), and they have taken advantage of it by acquiring Barbashev. Although Barbashev does not provide the same impact as an elite forward like Stone, he will be a strong addition to Vegas’ forward group during their final stretch of the season. This is because he provides strong secondary scoring, reliable defensive play, and immense physicality.

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

Barbashev was receiving plenty of interest around the league as a rental candidate because he can play all three forward positions, too. This will come in handy for the Golden Knights, as Barbashev can fit virtually anywhere in their top nine. It seems most likely that he will take over the second-line right wing spot from Mike Amadio, but he also could be an upgrade over Paul Cotter on the first line. However, if they wanted to spread out their scoring more, Barbashev could also be an option for Vegas’ third line. With that, Barbashev’s strong all-around game should also be enough for him to play on both Vegas’ power play and penalty kill.

Overall, Barbashev is built for the playoffs, so it makes sense that Vegas pursued him heavily. Although he is not a full-on star, he should make a big impact on Vegas for the remainder of the year. In 59 games this season, the 2014 second-round pick has 10 goals, 19 assists, and 132 hits.

Related: 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

In the end, this is a solid move for Vegas, but their grade does drop just a tad when noting that they have traded one of their top prospects for a middle-six forward.

Golden Knights Grade: B+

Blues Land Top Prospect

The Blues have made it clear this deadline season that they are retooling their roster. Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nikko Mikkola, and Noel Acciari have already been moved, and Barbashev has joined the list. Although they did not land any draft picks for Barbashev, it is hard not to like the return for St. Louis. Dean has the potential to become a solid long-term part of their core if all goes right with his development.

Zach Dean Gatineau Olympiques
Zach Dean of the Gatineau Olympiques (Steve Philippe)

The Golden Knights selected Dean with the 30th overall pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old is viewed as possessing top-six potential, so it is pretty big that St. Louis has been able to land him for a rental. The Alberta native is having a strong season with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), as he has 24 goals to go along with 49 points in 38 games.

Related: THW’s 2023 Trade Grades

If Dean continues to perform this well in the QMJHL, he could make St. Louis’ NHL roster as soon as next season. However, it also would not be bad for him to spend time in the American Hockey League (AHL) before playing in the sport’s most competitive league.

Overall, Dean is a strong return for the Blues. Although there were rumblings that St. Louis was looking for a 2023 first-round pick for Barbashev, they have still landed a top prospect in Dean. Therefore, in the end, it is hard to complain about this one for the Blues.

Blues Grade: A-