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Golden Knights acquire versatile forward from Blues

Updated February 27, 2023 - 7:03 pm

The Western Conference-leading Golden Knights made their first addition for the stretch run, adding a gritty, versatile forward with a Stanley Cup pedigree.

The Knights acquired right wing Ivan Barbashev from the St. Louis Blues on Sunday for forward prospect Zach Dean, their 2021 first-round pick. The deal comes five days before the NHL’s trade deadline Friday.

Barbashev, 27, has 29 points in 59 games this season. He was even better last season, with a career-high 26 goals and 60 points.

Barbashev is expected to join the Knights in Denver and be available for Monday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

“Ivan’s exactly the type of player we believe we need,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “He plays a hard game. He’s at the net. He kills penalties. He’s a really versatile, useful player that will have an important role on our team.”

McCrimmon said the Knights’ goal was to add a forward before the deadline.

The team was down to 12 NHL forwards after it was announced during the All-Star break that captain Mark Stone would be out indefinitely because of back surgery. The Knights also needed scoring help. They’re tied for 17th in the NHL in goals per game since Stone’s injury.

The team determined Barbashev was the right fit. McCrimmon said the Knights’ scouting staff watched Barbashev 45 times this season.

Barbashev has played seven seasons in the NHL, with 178 points in 410 games. He also has nine points in 50 playoff games.

Barbashev, along with Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, won the 2019 Stanley Cup with St. Louis. Their opponent was Knights coach Bruce Cassidy’s Boston Bruins.

The hallmarks of Barbashev’s game are his adaptability and physicality. He can play all three forward positions as well as up and down the lineup. He also has 132 hits this season, which ranks fourth on his new team behind right wing Keegan Kolesar, defenseman Brayden McNabb and left wing Paul Cotter.

“He has a real physical edge to his game,” McCrimmon said. “He’s competitive, and we think he’s going to be able to move around our lineup to complement whatever line that he plays on.”

Barbashev is a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of $2.25 million. McCrimmon said an extension is “a possibility” but that the Knights haven’t spoken to Barbashev or his agent, Dan Milstein, about it.

The team is projected to have approximately $4.2 million in cap space this offseason.

Dean, 20, was the 30th overall pick in 2021. He’s a hardworking, two-way forward who can play center or wing. He has 49 points in 38 games this season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Gatineau Olympiques.

Dean will join a Blues organization flush with young forward talent, from current NHLers Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou to recent first-round picks Jake Neighbours, Zachary Bolduc and Jimmy Snuggerud.

“Excited to get started!!” Dean wrote on Instagram.

Trading Dean continues the Knights’ history of moving first-round picks. The only first-round selection still in the organization is right wing Brendan Brisson, the 29th pick in 2020.

The Knights’ three 2017 first-round picks — centers Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki and defenseman Erik Brannstrom — were included in deals to get center Nolan Patrick, left wing Max Pacioretty and Stone. Their 2019 first-round pick, forward Peyton Krebs, was part of the trade to get center Jack Eichel.

The Knights’ 2022 first-round pick was included in the Eichel deal. The team moved its 2018 first-round pick in a deadline deal for left wing Tomas Tatar.

It remains to be seen whether the Knights will make any other moves. They still have approximately $7.25 million in spending power before the deadline.

Names are flying off the board fast. In other moves Sunday, New Jersey acquired San Jose left wing Timo Meier, Dallas added former Knights right wing Evgenii Dadonov, and Colorado grabbed Chicago defenseman Jack Johnson.

Players still expected to be available include Philadelphia left wing James van Riemsdyk, Columbus left wing Gustav Nyquist, and Chicago forwards Sam Lafferty and Max Domi. Chicago right wing Patrick Kane has yet to be traded, but the New York Rangers appeared to be preparing for his arrival this weekend with several cap-clearing moves.

“You continue to work,” McCrimmon said. “We’ve got cap space available to still be able to add if the right deal presents itself to make our team better.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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