2021-22 Team: Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: December 18, 2003
Place of Birth: Moskva, RUS
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 183 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 98th (amongst NA skaters)
After spending two years with the Atlant Mytishchi program in Russia, Maxim Barbashev made the leap to North America to play for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He was drafted in the first round, 50th overall, in the CHL Import Draft and recorded ten points in ten games. While the sample size for that season was small, one thing that immediately caught the attention of anyone who watched him was how physical of a player he was. While Russian-born players tend to play more on the finesse and skill side, Barbashev is as crash-and-bang as you could ask for in a prospect.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Barbashev excels at playing a physical style, whether it’s open-ice hits, battles in corners, or battling for position in front of the net. He’s an absolute menace when it comes to his net-front presence, as he’s nearly impossible to move. He has a lanky frame, but he’s exceptionally strong and tenacious. He recorded 15 goals and 42 points in 59 games, and most of his time was spent digging for loose pucks in greasy areas. Barbashev has good speed and edgework, which he utilizes well when lowering the shoulder for a thunderous hit. He delivered his fair share of body checks last season, many of which sent opposing players flying.
Barbshev’s style isn’t only about bone-crunching collisions, as he possesses a deceptive shot that is both accurate and heavy. He has tremendous hockey IQ when the puck is on his stick, as he chooses well when to shoot the puck and when to distribute it to an open teammate. He has great vision at finding lanes for cross-seam passes, and he isn’t afraid to force pucks into high-danger areas to create havoc. If no lane is open, he has a quick wrist shot that often hits the net and usually forces goaltenders into surrendering rebounds into the slot area.
Where Barbashev comes up short is on the defensive side of the game. He uses his acceleration and speed to get on the backcheck, but his effort was inconsistent at best last season. Often, he’ll coast in the defensive zone and play a more-passive style, awaiting a turnover to spark a defensive-zone breakout. He’s not as active with his stick as he should be and could afford to position himself better to take away passing lanes. His physicality is still a strong suit, and he’ll engage in board battles.
Barbashev’s lack of consistency is a major area of concern that needs immediate improvement if he wishes to have an impact at the pro level. It occurred far too often in the same game where he’d be the best player on a few shifts and then look invisible. One aspect he could tweak is the amount of time he uses his physicality as his bread and butter. Maintaining energy levels throughout a full 60 minutes and knowing when to engage and conserve stamina are things he should prioritize. In doing so, it could help with his defensive awareness as well.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Maxim Barbashev – NHL Draft Projection
With his skillset, Barbashev could go anywhere between the fourth and sixth round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. As highlighted, his defensive awareness and consistency issues will need to be remedied by the team that drafts him if he hopes to establish an NHL presence. Luckily for him, he has shown some growth in North America, and his style of play bodes well for a push into the American Hockey League. The team that takes a flyer on him late into the draft could be in for a pleasant surprise.
“He’s a guy who still has a lot of room to improve and grow as a young player, but that’s a good thing because he already has a lot of skill. I think his style of play is ready for the NHL and also for the biggest games in the league, because that’s when he elevates his game the most.”- Daniel Lacroix, Moncton Wildcats Head Coach (from ‘2022 NHL Draft | Under the Microscope: Maxim Barbashev’, QMJHL, 06/03/22)
“Barbashev is a hard worker who plays with a bit of jam in his game. He can score, create turnovers, throw his weight around and be effective with and without the puck. I felt that he did everything I would like to see from him. He attacked from any situation and he really liked to take the puck to the net. He was able to lean on defenders and drive into them with his strong hips to create turnovers and gain space but it’s his net-front presence and ability to set up just outside the crease that was so continuously effective for him.”- Shaun Richardson, FC Hockey (from ‘Maxim Barbashev Player Report – Moncton vs. Halifax’, FC Hockey, 10/31/21)
“Barbashev is a strong forward who can play in every aspect of the game. He’s really dangerous when controlling the puck in the offensive zone as he displays smooth and quick edges to protect the puck and navigate towards the net. He’s pretty crafty in the offensive zone, as he can rip the puck and also make sweet passing plays. He isn’t scared to engage physically and he’s pretty strong in that regard.”- Zacharie Labrie, FC Hockey (from ‘Maxim Barbashev Player Report – Cape Breton vs. Moncton’, FC Hockey, 03/30/22)
- Plays a North American style
- Accurate shot
- Good offensive hockey IQ
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Defensive awareness
- Stick positioning to cut off lanes
Barbashev has solid speed and acceleration to compete at his current level, and there’s plenty of room to grow in that department. His frame could stand to add some muscle, which could help improve some concerns of in-game fatigue with the style he plays. Developing his two-way game and placing a focus on remaining vigilant in the defensive zone could turn him into a serviceable bottom-six player. His big-body presence is suitable for a team’s third line and second wave on the powerplay, especially as a player who can create disturbances in the crease.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk: 3/5, Reward: 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense: 6/10, Defense: 3/10
In his first full season in the QMJHL, Barbashev finished top five in scoring on his team. He was one of four players to register a goal in three games during the Wildcats first-round exit in the QMJHL Playoffs. He was one of the 2021-22 Michel-Bergeron Trophy finalists for Offensive Rookie of the Year in the QMJHL.
- 2022 NHL Draft | Under the Microscope: Maxim Barbashev from QMJHL
- 2022 Top Prospects Game | Post-Game Interviews – Maxim Barbashev from QMJHL on YouTube
- Maxim Barbashev at the NHL Combine from NHL.com
Maxim Barbashev Statistics
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Covering the Nashville Predators. I work for a company called SPORTLOGiQ and have loved the game of Hockey for over three decades. I’m obsessed with advanced analytics and pair that with my love for the eye test – i.e. watching the games (I DO that too!)