The St. Louis Blues, like many teams, have some bad luck with their players having sophomore slumps. That trend continued with Ivan Barbashev.
The St. Louis Blues had high hopes after a strong debut from Ivan Barbashev. Barbashev did not crush it in his first 30 games, but he was solid with five goals and 12 points. It was the typical season that gave you just enough of a taste to want more.
However, his second offering was not nearly as good. Barbashev went from 30 to 53 games played and only increased his point total by one. He finished the 2017-18 season with seven goals and 13 points. So, his goals went up, but his assists went down.
Overall, it was not as though he got worse by a large margin, but Barbashev clearly did not find his consistency. In his sophomore season, he showed that he has a lot of progression to make if he is going to become a regular on this team.
Final Grade: C-
Barbashev was a player that the Blues hoped would take a large step in 2017-18. Even if you had a full roster, the Blues intended Barbashev to be played higher up the lineup this past season.
You can debate if he was going to be a second line player or a third line player. You can also discuss whether the Blues were going to use him as a wing or center.
What ended up happening is Barbashev never really found a home. He never got comfortable on the second line and he never truly found a fit on the third line.
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So, Barbashev ended up playing a good deal of the season on the fourth line. Some of that was due to injuries forcing the coaching staff to make severe lineup changes. A lot of it had to do with Barbashev not earning his playing time.
Just about everything went down from his rookie year, other than playing time, which only rose by about 30 seconds per game.
Barbashev went down defensively, going from a plus-5 to minus-1. His defensive point shares had a minuscule boost, but his overall point shares went down.
Barbashev won fewer faceoffs and had a worse faceoff percentage. His shot percentage went down as well.
None of this means he can’t have a good NHL career, but it makes you start to worry about Jori Lehtera. Lehtera had a fantastic rookie season and then literally went down ever season after that.
Barbashev cannot afford to have that happen because his rookie season was not as high. If Barbashev continues to go down, then he has a quick date with the AHL coming next season.
You could almost give Barbashev a lower grade since he gave the same performance over a longer period of time. However, he would show just enough to save himself.
Clearly, from a statistical standpoint, he has to improve. You cannot fault the effort on most nights though. Like every member of the Blues, he has to play every shift of a full 60 minute game, but he was not the first name you think of when looking for slackers.
Regardless of what you think about his skill, Barbashev is one of the few Blues that shows some top speed. The Blues have attempted to get faster, but so few seem to actually show the kind of speed we see across the league elsewhere.
As far as 2017-18 went, Barbashev was not a terrible player, but given his performance I’m not sure he would have stayed with the Blues if they had a fully healthy roster.
As far as the future goes, he has tons of room for improvement. There is still enough talent in there to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he might be on the outside looking in if he does not improve quickly. There are enough young guys that the team will likely give more looks if Barbashev cannot hold them off.
49’s third season might be his most important. He has to take a giant leap now instead of just big steps.