The St. Louis Blues announced the signing of Ivan Barbashev to a three-year, entry-level contract Monday. Barbashev, 18, was selected 33rd overall by the Blues in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Level Draft. It is unclear at this time what the financial terms of the contract will be.Heading into draft weekend, Barbashev was considered by many to be a first-round pick. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had him ranked No. 23 on his draft board. However, when the Blues found themselves on the clock with the third pick of the second round, Barbashev was still on the board. They did not hesitate to snatch him up. While it remains unclear at this point where Barbashev will play next season, his options appear limited. Currently, Barbashev plays for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Hockey League. According to an NHL-CHL agreement, Barbashev is ineligible to play in the AHL until the 2015-2016 season.
This leaves Barbashev with two options: either he returns to QMJHL or he makes the jump to the NHL. With the quality of depth the Blues have at the NHL level, a return to Moncton seems most likely. Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong echoed this sentiment during a guest appearance on Jeremy Rutherford’s weekly chat on STLtoday.com.
Players drafted and playing for CHL teams are ineligible to play in the professional minor leagues (AHL, ECHL) until they are 20 years old (by December 31st of that year) or have completed four years in major juniors.
In general with an 18-year-old draft (pick), you’re looking at players playing in year 4-5, unless you’re picking the top 4-5 in the draft. So with this year’s picks, Fabbri and Barbashev, we look at them playing major junior at least one more season and in Fabrri’s case, two more seasons. And Barbashev will turn pro after this year.
So, it looks like the plan will be to have Barbashev play one more season in the QMJHL before transitioning to Chicago to play in the AHL for the 2015-2016 season. Still, this signing is important as it allows Barbashev to attend training camp with the Blues this year. He will have the opportunity to learn Ken Hitchcock’s system, play in a few preseason games and figure out what parts of his game he needs to work on in order to best prepare himself for the NHL.