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Preview/Lines #17: Barabanov Proving Himself Again

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

Alexander Barabanov has been a revelation (once again) for the San Jose Sharks.

Last year, Barabanov came at the Trade Deadline from Toronto. Honestly, not much was expected from the 27-year-old Russian winger, considering the price, Sharks disappointment Antti Suomela, and his one point in 13 games with the Maple Leafs.

Barabanov, however, was an immediate success, potting three goals and four assists in nine games next to Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane.

Was Barabanov the real deal? That was a big question heading into this San Jose Sharks training camp. For good reason, Doug Wilson and company weren’t sure, and that was reflected in Barabanov’s new contract this summer, a one-year, $1 million dollar commitment.

It was a show-me contract and Barabanov wasn’t showing it in the preseason: William Eklund quickly supplanted Barabanov in the top-six and the Russian winger played just a couple exhibition games as he dealt with an undisclosed lower-body injury.

Barabanov was a scratch on opening night.

What a difference a month makes.

Barabanov has been a line-up mainstay next to Hertl since the Oct. 30 COVID game, notching two goals and four assists in his last nine appearances.

Perhaps it took just getting over a groin injury in training camp?

Whatever the reason for Barabanov’s resurgence, his skill has been a welcome sight. After all, beyond Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, how many proven producers do the San Jose Sharks have on the wing?

We’ll count Barabanov in there if he keeps making no-look plays like this one:

“Barbie made a great fake,” Hertl, the recipient, said. “It was like three guys in front of him. So great pass for him. Easy goal for me.”

“I like the way he’s played in the last couple of weeks. We were looking for a guy that can play in our top-six and complement Tommy Hertl’s line and he’s definitely been that guy. Offensively, he’s a pretty gifted player,” Bob Boughner said. “He’s got some fight in him, pride in him. He’s not a soft guy. He competes.”

Recent linemate Rudolf Balcers agreed: “He’s a really smart player. He works hard. He gets into battles for the puck.”

Hopefully, Mattel is reading this: A Barabanov Barbie doll arena giveaway would be a sure hit.

“I don’t even know if he knows what Barbie means,” Hertl laughed. “[Ricci] also calls him Babalu. He has a couple nicknames. I think he’s all good with that.”

San Jose Sharks (8-7-1)

Kevin Labanc has been suspended one game for a slew foot on Tyler Bozak.

Washington Capitals (10-2-5)

Per Daily Faceoff, this is how the Capitals might line up:

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Wilson
Jonsson-Fjallby – McMichael – Oshie
Sprong – Protas – Sheary
Hagelin – Dowd – Hathaway

Fehervary – Carlson
Orlov – Jensen
van Riemsdyk – Schultz

Samsonov

Capitals Notebook: Dowd, Oshie Game-Time Decisions, Eller In Quarantine

Where to Watch

Puck drop against Washington is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California and ESPN+. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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