LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – In Ivan Barbashev the Golden Knights feel they got exactly the kind of gritty, versatile player they’ve needed, general manager Kelly McCrimmon said Sunday night.
Barbashev, 27, who shoots left and can play either center or wing, was acquired Sunday for prospect Zach Dean, 20, the Knights’ first-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft, No 30 overall.
“He has a real physical edge to his game,” McCrimmon said of Barbashev, who is expected to be in the lineup Monday night when the Knights face the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. “He’s competitive, and we think he can move around in the lineup.”
Barbashev has appeared in all 59 games for St. Louis this season with 10 goals and 19 assists. For most of this season, he’s played right wing.
Known as a player who combines skill, scoring touch and grit, Barbashev had his best offensive season in 2021-22 with 60 points on 26 goals and 34 assists.
Barbashev, a native of Moscow, has played 50 playoff games and was a member of the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup championship team, which also included Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
He was selected by the Blues in the second round of the 2014 draft, No. 33 overall. Barbashev will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Pietrangelo, in a story on the team’s website, told Gary Lawless, a Knights broadcaster and reporter, that Barbashev was excited about the move to Las Vegas. The two were pretty close as St. Louis teammates, Pietrangelo said in the story by Lawless.
“The year we won, he played on the fourth line in a shutdown role against Boston’s best players, and he was a big reason why we won,” Pietrangelo said. “He’s versatile, he plays the game hard and he likes to win.”
McCrimmon said Barbashev fits coach Bruce Cassidy’s preference for forwards who can get to the net — or, as Cassidy says often, play inside. Although his offensive numbers are down, McCrimmon says Barbashev has played well this season.
“We have had 45 separate viewings of the player (from scouts, etc.),” McCrimmon said, “so we are really confident in knowing what we are getting.”
Dean, 20, a center from Grande Prairie, Alberta, is playing with the Gatineau Olympiques in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 38 games with Gatineau, he has 24 goals and 49 points.
“A good young player, a very good prospect,” McCrimmon said of Dean, the Knights’ first pick in the 2021 draft, No. 30 overall.
Once again, the Knights dealt youth and promise for experience in an effort to win it all.
With Barbashev heading to free agency, the question is whether the Knights, up against the salary cap, can sign him or will want to after the season.
“We’ll see how that goes,” McCrimmon said. “He’s the right age, 27 years old. We’d be interested in that.
“We have not spoke to his agent, though, or Ivan about re-signing.”