In return, the Blues pick up prospect Zach Dean. A first-round pick of the Golden Knights in 2021, the centerman has scored 24 goals and 49 points in 50 games in the QMJHL this season.
Potentially finding a two-way, top-nine forward became a priority when the Golden Knights announced on Feb. 1 that captain and left winger Mark Stone underwent a second surgery on his back in less than a year. Stone, who was injured Jan. 12, was initially ruled out indefinitely, with the team later moving him to long-term injured reserve.
Sending Stone and his $9.5 million cap hit to LTIR in addition to trading Shea Weber's contract last week gave the Golden Knights the cap space to make a move. Vegas has gone 7-5-4 since Stone has been out of the lineup, but they've won six of their past eight games.
Enter Barbashev. The 27-year-old has 10 goals and 29 points in 59 games this season. He's projected to finish this season with 14 goals and 40 points after scoring a career-high 26 goals and 60 points in 2021-22. Barbashev has also scored nine points in 50 playoff games. He is also a pending unrestricted free agent who is in the last of a two-year deal carrying a $2.25 million cap hit.
Barbashev's arrival gives the Golden Knights a winger who can operate on both the penalty kill and the power play. He also provides depth for a team that entered Sunday with the best record in the Western Conference. Vegas holds a two-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings and are one of four Pacific teams separated by six points at the top. They also hold a two-point lead over the Central-leading Dallas Stars.
Barbashev was one of the last few players remaining from the Blues' Stanley Cup team in 2018-19, and his departure is the latest signal that St. Louis is a team in transition from the one that made the playoffs in four straight seasons. It started Feb. 9, when the Blues traded All-Star winger Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers for forward Sammy Blais, prospect Hunter Skinner, a conditional 2023 first-round pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick.
On Feb. 18, the Blues sent captain Ryan O'Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a three-team deal. St. Louis also traded away forward Noel Acciari in the deal, and in return received forward Adam Gaudette, prospect Mikhail Abramov, the Leafs' 2023 first-round pick, the Ottawa Senators' 2023 third-round pick and the Leafs' 2024 second-round pick.
It gives the Blues, who entered Sunday more than 12 points adrift of the final wild-card spot, quite a bit of draft capital. Prior to the Barbashev trade, the Blues had nine picks in this year's draft (three in the first round) in addition to nine picks for 2024.