Calder – Ivan Barbashev
The Blues called up five different players from minor league affiliate Chicago Wolves, experiencing mixed levels of success within the organizational system. But the most pivotal prospect down the stretch proved to be Ivan Barbashev, who was never scratched from a game since his NHL debut on January 26.
While injuries and scoring nearly turned St. Louis’s third and fourth lines into a game of musical chairs, Barbashev adapted to occasional roles as left winger and played his more natural position in center near the season’s end. In fact, he worked his way to some first-line action in final games on non-special teams units.
Barbashev ended the season on a four-game point streak and averaged above 15 minutes of ice time per game during this stretch. The 21 year-old filled a big role following Robby Fabbri‘s season-ending ACL injury and it’s possible both could become linemates in future seasons. Although the Blues may have a crowded situation at center after bringing Vladimir Sobotka back, Barbashev should be a middle-of-the-ice catalyst for years to come.
Chance of NHL awards recognition
Last year’s first overall pick Auston Matthews is almost a lock win with his 40-goal campaign and the Maple Leafs first playoff bid since 2013. Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine will capture attention as well being the league’s seventh best goal scorer. This season’s rookie class offered several household names means, which unfortunately means there’s no realistic chance that Barbashev or another Blues rookie could be recognized for Calder.