The Blues have re-signed the last of their remaining restricted free agents, announcing that they have signed center Ivan Barbashev to a two-year contract. The deal will carry an AAV of $1.475MM. Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reports (Twitter link) that Barbashev will receive $1.4MM in 2019-20 and $1.55 in 2020-21; the latter number will represent his qualifying offer in the 2021 offseason.
After being more of a role player through his first two NHL seasons, the 23-year-old became a regular on the fourth line for the Blues and chipped in offensively with 14 goals and 12 assists in 80 games. He also suited up in all but one of their 26 postseason contests, collecting three goals and three helpers while averaging nearly 3.5 hits per game, more than three times his regular season rate. He’ll be expected to reprise his role as their fourth line center for the upcoming season.
That had Barbashev seeking what was reported to be a four-year deal at one point this offseason. However, the two sides had shifted their focus to a bridge contract in recent days after his agent acknowledged that they were looking at overseas options and they were able to find some common ground.
The deal allows the Blues to stay under the $81.5MM salary cap without having to move anyone out although it appears that they’ll be among the teams that will have minimal wiggle room this season. Meanwhile, Barbashev will be able to take a run at a bigger deal two years from now. He’ll still be a restricted free agent at that time but he’ll have salary arbitration eligibility at that time, something that wasn’t the case this time around.