The San Jose Sharks will be without Alexander Barabanov for at least the next few days after he was placed in the COVID protocol today. Head coach Bob Boughner confirmed to reporters including Curtis Pashelka of Mercury News that Barabanov did indeed test positive for coronavirus this morning.
He joins Nick Bonino, assistant coach John MacLean, and video coach Dan Darrow in the protocol for the Sharks. It also means that the team is losing another important forward, though Rudolfs Balcers is expected to return to the lineup tomorrow against the New York Rangers. Balcers last played over a month ago and can basically step directly into Barabanov’s spot, though can’t really replace the offense that the 27-year-old Russian has brought since arriving in San Jose.
Acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs after failing to earn a full-time spot, Barabanov ran with the opportunity down the stretch and scored seven points in nine games last season for the Sharks. He signed a new one-year, $1MM deal to return to San Jose and this season has proven to be a reliable top-six option. In 32 games he has 20 points, while averaging nearly 17 minutes a night and also taking a regular shift on the powerplay.
Since he’s positive, he’ll miss at least five days in the protocol. That means at least two games missed and more likely three, as the Sharks play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and Los Angeles Kings on Monday.