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Barbashev's deal means Cup champion Blues return almost everyone

Barbashev's deal means Cup champion Blues return almost everyone

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Game 7 Stanley Cup Final

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) stops a shot by St. Louis Blues center Ivan Barbashev (49) in second period action during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at the TD Garden in Boston. Photo by Laurie Skrivan,

With training camp just around the corner, the gang’s all here for the Blues — or at least the gang’s all under contract. That became so Sunday night when the team announced that forward Ivan Barbashev had agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $1.475 million per year.

With Barbashev in the fold, that means 22 of the 23 Blues who appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the team this past season will be under contract for the 2019-20 campaign. And for a Stanley Cup championship team in the NHL’s salary cap era that’s unheard of.

The only defection was Oakville High’s Pat Maroon, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.

“We are pleased to have Ivan signed prior to our camp,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch on Sunday evening. “This signing will allow the team to have a singular focus on preparing for the season.”

Barbashev, 23, is coming off a career year for the Blues with career bests in goals (14) and assists (12) during the regular season. Included in that goal total was his first NHL hat trick in a 5-2 Blues victory over Detroit on March 12.

Among his three playoff goals was an unassisted score 36 seconds into Game 4 of the Western Conference final against San Jose, a 2-1 Blues victory that tied the series at two games apiece.

Barbashev becomes the last of nine restricted free agents to re-sign with the Blues, seven of whom appeared in the playoffs. Barbashev, however, was not arbitration eligible, meaning he did not have much leverage in terms of contract negotiations.

But according to his agent, Dan Milstein, Barbashev was considering playing in the Kontinental Hockey League before re-upping with the Blues.

“Ivan is very happy to sign an extension with the Blues,” Milstein told the Post-Dispatch. “While he had lucrative offers overseas, his priority was always to stay in the NHL.

“He loves the city and his teammates. He looks forward to defending the championship.”

Barbashev had an extended role for the Blues during their Stanley Cup run. In addition to his usual spot on the fourth line, Barbashev saw extensive duty on the penalty kill unit for the first time in his three NHL seasons. Early in the season he explained that his new PK duties were simply a way to get on the ice more often.

Barbashev also stepped up his physical play in the postseason, leading the Blues with 87 hits.

With Barbashev’s signing, the Blues are expected to have about $1.2 million in salary cap space when all is said and done, giving them a bit of a cushion to replace injured players during the season.

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