Ivan Barbashev is putting together a career-best season
If you poll the average Blues fan, they would most likely tell you the hero of this season offensively is Jordan Kyrou. That’s a fine answer, of course. The young winger is emerging as not just a legitimate, nightly scoring threat, but as an up-and-coming dynamic young player in all of the NHL. His accolades are recognition are rightly deserved.
But another young player is being overlooked, one who is quietly putting together a career best kind of season. That would be Ivan Barbashev.
Through 35 games, Barbashev, just 26, has 28 points. That total has eclipsed his previous point total, and we’re not even halfway through the season. He’s often played on “The Russian Line,” with Pavel Buchnevich and Vladimir Tarasenko. He is benefiting from playing with other scoring players, rather than his previous assignment, which was usually on the 4th line.
He carved out playing time early on in his career with the Blues by being a sound defensive player. But he has good hands and strong hockey intelligence. He quickly became more than just 4th line energy player. He really is versatile, and now is truly showing how potent he can be offensively.
Some players take time to develop into their full potential. I would confess, as I think many Blues fans would, that Barbashev was considered a 4th line player who could play on the 3rd or 2nd lines in a pinch. Valuable, certainly, but not a counted-on scorer.
Barbashev scored in the Winter Classic, helping his national exposure. He had a beauty of a goal on November 27th against Columbus, scoring with a quick wrist shot on a breakaway. And he’s chipped in on the power play, showing he’s earned trust with Coach Berube. His time on ice has increased this season, in the 17-18 minutes per game. Some of that playing time has been by necessity, as various players have been on the injury shelf.
Barbashev has skated on several different lines, but he has most thrived with his fellow Russians, Tarasenko and Buchnevich. Their playing styles complement each other, but make no mistake – their shared nationality is a binding factor, and a catalyst to their chemistry and production.
Barbashev, Kyrou and Tarasenko have been the best offensive players for the club, and that’s a great thing, because other players are having muted starts on the scoresheet. This is why Doug Armstrong builds such deep rosters going into the season. These anomalies happen. Surprise players happen. And I’m thrilled it’s happening for Barbashev.