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With Free Agency Looming, Barabanov’s All-Around Game “Steadily” Improving (+)

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Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

“He’s steadily improved his game.”

That’s what head coach Bob Boughner said about Alexander Barabanov after the San Jose Sharks’ 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

You could see that, in big and small ways even in defeat.

It’s obvious how linemates Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl help Barabanov. Meier has emerged as an elite winger this season and Hertl was just re-signed to an eight-year, $65.1 million dollar extension for a reason.

Meier (28) flashed some of that elite skill here – see how easily he kicks the Brent Burns (88) pass in his feet up to his forehand – beating the Mikko Rantanen (96) forecheck to hit Hertl (48) breaking out with speed up the middle.

Now, it’s Alexander Barabanov (94) who helps Hertl.

As Hertl chugs up the neutral zone, Barabanov doesn’t even try to get open – he cuts to the middle as Nathan MacKinnon (29) tries to make a stand at the blueline, effectively picking MacKinnon and opening the outside lane for an easy Hertl entry.

That’s just a high hockey IQ play.

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