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Barabanov Had COVID This Season, Talks Trade Rumors



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Can Alexander Barabanov turn his season around?

Barabanov, just nine points in 34 games this season, after averaging 0.63 Points Per Game in his first three seasons with the San Jose Sharks, thinks so: “I know I’m a good player.”

The Russian winger will get another chance to show it on Saturday. After his first healthy scratch of the season on Monday, head coach David Quinn said today that Barabanov will draw back in against the Nashville Predators, likely higher in the line-up.

“He and I talked today before practice,” Quinn said. “He’s gone through a lot this year, he is going to be an unrestricted free agent, so there’s a lot to it.”

Barabanov, 29, making $2.5 million AAV, is set to become a UFA after this season.

“I try not to think about this, but everybody reminds me about this,” Barabanov said. “Yeah, of course I think about this. I’m human.”

Barabanov isn’t just thinking about himself either. He and his wife Valeriia just had their second child this past summer.

”It affects guys differently,” Quinn said of the Mar. 8 Trade Deadline. “Some guys don’t get affected by it, some guys get affected by it a little, some guys get affected by it a lot. So it may cause a little hesitation [on the ice].

“The mind is [so important]. Sports is so fast. If you’re just a little off, you look like a completely different player. And I think that can happen to people in his situation.”

Besides that, Barabanov missed over a month with a finger injury from Oct. 24 to Dec. 3. When he came back, he was playing some of his best hockey this season with a four-game point streak upon his return, but hit a roadblock soon after that via a bout with COVID around Christmas.

He didn’t skate for six days, missed two games, and returned to the line-up cold on Dec. 27. He has just two goals and two assists in 20 games since.

“When you prepare all summer for a season, and then you’re out for one month, it’s always hard to come back,” Barabanov said. “After when I broke my finger, I went on the ice and looked good, and then I got COVID. And again, you start again like it’s a new season. It’s tough.”

The Russian winger says he’s 100 percent right now.

”He’s had a hard time getting in a rhythm,” Quinn said.

Quinn added: “It’s at no fault of anybody. There’s just been some inconsistencies. There’s been some real good moments for him since he’s been back, but there’s been the down moments and we just kind of have to eliminate those bad shifts, those bad situations, so, as we’ve talked about, when you’re bad, you’re bad, we just have to raise the floor a bit on his bad shifts.”

We saw an example of that in Barabanov’s last shift, on Boone Jenner’s last-second game-winner in a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 17.

Barabanov Going Wrong Way in Sharks Line-Up at Wrong Time (+)

Barabanov, who has usually played heavy minutes with the likes of Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture in his previous three seasons, has also had to adjust to new linemates with both of the San Jose Sharks’ top centermen dealing with a slew of injuries this year.

”Of course, it’s tough when you lose good players,” Barabanov said. “But we have what we have.”

And that’s who he has to work with if he wants to end the season with a statement.

To do that, Quinn wants Barabanov to stop “forcing plays”: “Usually, you don’t generate offense by chasing offense, you generate offense by doing a few things in the game that lead to it.”

According to Quinn, for Barabanov, that’s “skating and [being] physical, not killing people, just strong on pucks, 50-50 battles, and moving pucks.”

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