Despite injuries, off-ice drama, and what many believe to be a poorly-constructed roster, the San Jose Sharks are just two points out of a playoff spot, 42 games into the season.  The Sharks’ surprising success is due in part to the play of 27-year-old Alexander Barabanov, who had played just 22 NHL games before the start of this season.  Despite his inexperience in North America, Barabanov honed his skills playing in the KHL for SKA Saint Petersburg before signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020.  

The Sharks acquired Barabanov from the Leafs during the 2020-21 season, and he was impressive in his short time with the team, scoring 7 points in just 9 games after registering just one assist in 13 games with the Leafs.  The Sharks extended Barabanov’s contract for one year to get a better look at the 5’11” winger’s play over an entire season before committing to a long-term deal.  This season he is sixth on the team in both goals (6) and points (21) and is currently playing on their top line with Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier. 
Alexander is looking forward to the future and is said to be hoping for a “Robby Fabbri-like contract” according to Sheng Peng of SJHockeyNow.  Fabbri signed a 3-year, $12-million contract extension ahead of his impending free agency with the Detroit Red Wings last month.  Peng goes on to say that it’s a reasonable request if you compare the two forwards’ offensive stats and that Barabanov is actually on pace to have more points than Fabbri does, once he has played the same amount of games.
As of now, the San Jose Sharks have not opened up discussions with the 7-year KHL veteran, but with a reasonable asking price, the Sharks would be wise to get a deal done sooner than later, as the upside on a short-term contract like that far outweighs the risk.  


Photo Credit: © John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

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