In what might have been an honest-to-goodness hockey trade, the San Jose Sharks acquired Alexander Barabanov from Toronto for Antti Suomela.
The Maple Leafs lured Barabanov away from the KHL in the off-season. The 26-year-old winger never could make an impact on the big club, however, notching just one assist in 13 NHL games.
This didn’t stop Doug Wilson from taking a swing at the 5-foot-8 Russian: “Barabanov, we’re very familiar with. He’s won a [2018 Olympic] gold medal, multiple World Championships, World Juniors, he’s a really talented guy.
“It’s a player that is a very talented, highly-skilled, high-energy guy that I think will be fun to see what he can bring to the table.”
Wilson also confessed, in regards to Suomela, who’s had a tough time sticking in the San Jose Sharks line-up over the past three seasons, “[Alexander] might have needed a change in scenery. A change of scenery for him, a change of scenery for Antti.”
Suomela came to the Sharks with some fanfare in the 2018 off-season, after leading Liiga in scoring. However, the 27-year-old spent most of his subsequent time in San Jose with the Barracuda, compiling four goals and 11 assists in 51 NHL appearances.
“He’s better than Suomela for sure,” an NHL scout told San Jose Hockey Now. “I think Barabanov has a shot to play in the NHL [regularly]. I’d try him over a few guys in your line-up.”
We’ll see where Barabanov starts, the San Jose Sharks or Barracuda, and if he can earn more NHL playing time than Suomela did. Barabanov is an impending UFA.
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