Hey, look! Actual hockey news! According to the team’s official Twitter account, the Maple Leafs have signed KHL free agent Alexander Barabanov to a one-year, entry-level contract.
The Maple Leafs have signed forward Alexander Barabanov to a one-year entry level contract for the 2020-21 season.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 7, 2020
Barabanov, who turns 26 years old in June, has spent his entire career in Russia with SKA St. Petersburg. He posted 11 goals and 20 points in 43 games in this year’s COVID-19-shortened season, which was a bit of a decline from the 17 goals and 46 he put up in 2018-19.
Last week, Earl Schwartz went into depth about why the Leafs should be interested in Barabanov and how his low point total might be misleading.
The European free agent market is a place that Kyle Dubas has been very active since taking over as general manager. Ahead of last season, he inked Ilya Mikheyev to a one-year entry-level deal, which worked out very nicely for the team. Before that, he also added Igor Ozhiganov out of the KHL and Par Lindholm out of Sweden.
Signing European free agents obviously carries a varying degree of success, as we’ve seen, but it offers a cheap and easy way for teams in difficult cap situations to add potential home runs to their roster at an inexpensive cost. Let’s hope that Barabanov works out like Mikheyev did.