It was reported last month that there were several NHL executives set to scout KHL forward Alexander Barabanov in person, and now Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has identified one of them. John Chayka, general manager of the Arizona Coyotes, was recently in Russia meeting Dan Milstein of Gold Star Hockey who represents Barabanov. Friedman notes that the Coyotes are the “most ardent pursuers” of the 25-year old who currently plays for SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.
Last season Barabanov was one of the most productive offensive players in the entire KHL, scoring 46 points in 58 games. It hasn’t been so rosy this year after his ice time was reduced, but the Coyotes obviously still believe he could be an asset to their organization.
Barabanov will become a free agent at the end of the KHL season and should have several interested NHL parties, though it is obviously unclear what kind of impact he could have on North American ice. He had very similar production last season to Ilya Mikheyev, who is finding success with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was also outscored significantly by Vadim Shipachyov who failed to make an impact for the Vegas Golden Knights and Nikita Gusev who has struggled with the New Jersey Devils.
The 5’10” forward has represented Russia several times on the international stage, even winning a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics and two bronze medals at the World Championships.