As far as high-end offensive forwards go, Ivan Barbashev is definitely among the top in this 2014 NHL draft class. Like many of his big name Russian counterparts, he possesses elite skill with the puck and is a threat to score whenever his line is on the ice.
What sets Barbashev apart from the Russian stereotype is, however, his defensive ability. I don’t think anybody is saying he is a defensive standout in this class, but since joining the QMJHL last season, he has been noted to be learning and improving his defensive side of the game.
When Ivan joined the Q in 2012, after a standout performance on Russia’s U17 team, it was clear right away that he was a serious candidate to be selected high in his draft year. Scoring 130 points in his 112 QMJHL games (1.12 PPG), the offensive numbers seem to live up to the hype. In fact, Barbashev has excelled across the board, scoring over a PPG in the U17 and U18 tournaments in addition to his success in the Q.
Something else to admire is his ability to play the physical game when needed. He’s no Scott Hartnell or Wayne Simmonds, but he isn’t shy about getting confrontational or throwing his body around. How that will translate into the NHL needs to be seen, but he has good weight and size for his competition (Sam Morin being the exception here). If he can put on some weight between the draft and his prime NHL playing days, he could become a decent forechecker who will win some 1-1 battles.
In all, I’d say Barbashev has the best chance -- outside the top tier in this draft class -- to be a day-1 NHL starter. His current ability on offense should make him a candidate for a top-9 spot in most team’s camps. As long as his defensive side of the game doesn’t hold him back, I can see him playing on opening night in the fall.
- Born – 12-14-1995
- Nationality - Russian
- Height – 6’0"
- Weight – 181 lbs
- Position – Forward (LW)
- Team(s) – Moncton (QMJHL); Russia (WJC)
Barbashev isn’t the typical Flyers pick based on skill. The Flyers tend to look at multi-purpose, multi-position players; someone they can move up and down and across the lineup. Barbashev is purely a top-6 winger, and honestly, the Flyers have depth in that area for now. Not saying I agree with the notion of drafting on today’s needs, but the Flyers tend to draft players they can develop at the NHL level.
That said, if Barbashev is on the board at No. 17, he probably is the most NHL-ready player available. While he probably won’t be a pure sniper, he definitely has potential to be an elite playmaker in the mold of a Jake Voracek. Someone that could come in right away on the second line with Brayden Schenn and Simmonds and help them more than Vinny Lecavalier was able to last season. But again, the Flyers have a long list of depth at forward, and we have Scott Laughton who is certainly in the running to make the team this year as well. If the Flyers do draft Barbashev, I see him staying in the Q for another year.
Overall, Barbashev is probably one of the higher-rated guys IMO that could be there at No. 17. If I were making a full mock based off the stats at my disposal, then I probably would put him before the Flyers pick. But some mocks I’ve read has him going closer to No. 30 than No. 17, so who really knows. I see a fit, but I’m not sure the Flyers see the way I do.
Watch for yourself
Our thanks to JpH, a long-time BSH regular, for helping us with our NHL Draft coverage this year. Stick around up, until and through the 2014 Draft on June 27 and 28 for full Flyers coverage.