So much for the big KHL signings. The Toronto Maple Leafs have now traded both Mikko Lehtonen and Alexander Barabanov after just a handful of games in the NHL, with the latter going to the San Jose Sharks at the deadline. The Sharks will send Antti Suomela to Toronto in return.
Barabanov played just 13 games for the Maple Leafs after signing his one-year entry-level contract. A strong KHL performer who recorded 46 points in 2018-19, he came to Toronto this season with an eye on regular NHL minutes and wasn’t ever really able to secure them. Even when dressing he averaged fewer than nine minutes a night, and though there were flashes of skill, Barabanov failed to score even a single goal.
With Nick Foligno acquired recently and top prospect Nicholas Robertson back up with the team, there wasn’t going to much more playing time for Barabanov with the Maple Leafs. He’ll try to get some extra playing time in San Jose, but the reality is that a return to the KHL could be coming fast. The 26-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year.
Suomela, 27, shouldn’t be considered much of a return for the Maple Leafs, even though he does have 51 games of NHL experience. He’s a depth forward that hasn’t even dominated at the AHL level, meaning he’ll be hard-pressed to crack the Maple Leafs skilled forward group.