The Toronto Maple Leafs announced a one-year deal for Alexander Barabanov which now provides the team with some options going forward.
After Kyle Dubas confirmed the team’s interest, Alexander Barabanov put pen to paper on a one-year, entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 25-year-old had a lot of interest from other NHL teams with more than 20 reportedly interested according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Fortunately for Toronto, the relationship with agent Dan Milstein gave them an added advantage to get a deal done.
Here is why the Russian forward was an attractive commodity for the Leafs according to the general manager.
"“He’s not tall, but he’s a very strong winger,” Dubas said about Barabanov. “Tremendous playmaking ability, great skill level in tight. But I think that one of the other things we like most about him is his ability to make plays under pressure and his ability to win pucks, protect pucks when people come after him and use his strength to be able to do that.”"
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Getting another forward on an entry-level contract now presents the team with another NHL-ready player that should be able to fit in a middle-six role on the team in a way Ilya Mikheyev did. It also means that the Leafs can consider moving another forward for assets.
With no telling what the future has in store because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Leafs have to be prepared for potential changes to the salary cap whether it goes up down or stays the same.
It’s no secret the Leafs need to find a way to improve the blue line and that might mean trading for one and that’s where the team’s forward depth will be crucial. This was the reason why the Leafs were able to make the trade for Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford because they were able to combine a package of draft picks and Trevor Moore who was an undrafted free agent.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see where the Leafs go with their off-season plan but getting an upgrade upfront in a proven forward like Barabanov is an early gift.
What do you think about the signing? Where should Barabanov play in the lineup? Let us know in the comments below.