Ivan Barbashev’s all-around game should keep working in a supporting role
When you think of the top five players on any team who must bring their A-Game, star players or major contributors come to mind. But there is often a player or two in the next tier who must also come through if a team wants to take their play to another level.
Some of the NHL’s best teams boast four solid lines, and players like Ivan Barbashev are among the best in the business in the middle-six. Barbashev is a cut below forwards like Eichel and Stone, and he’s never scored over 60 points in a single season. But since he arrived in Vegas, he’s been a big reason behind their recent success, dating back to last year’s Stanley Cup win when he had 18 points and seven goals in 22 contests.
Through 51 games this year, Barbashev hasn’t matched that production, but his 30 points show us that he can contribute roughly six-tenths of a point per game, and if he bumps that up to the near 0.7 per game he had through the final 23 matchups of the regular season last year, Vegas just got a lot better. He is right on the cusp of making that happen, so let’s see if he can return to and maintain that production.