Yeo hopes Barbashev finds his game in minors

Author: Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Date: Oct 25, 2017

Young Ivan Barbashev played a role in the Blues’ resurgence over the second half of last season.

The team’s second-round draft pick in 2014 scored five goals with seven assists in 30 games after being recalled from the American Hockey League in late January. He even found himself centering the Blues’ top line in their playoff opener against Minnesota.

“Nobody’s more aware and grateful for what he did last year than I,” coach Mike Yeo said Monday. “He came in and did an unreal job, at a time when we needed some help. ... Both offensively and defensively he was a guy that we could count on night in and night out.”

With that early success came increased expectations for the 2017-18 season.

“And at training camp he didn’t meet them,” Yeo said. “He got off to a tough start. We tried to get him into games, we tried to get him to find that rhythm. He had a couple games where it looked like it was close, but this is a hard league for a young player to find his game.”

So the 21-year-old forward was sent down to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League on Sunday to find his game.

“He’s a guy, we told him even on his way out, we need him,” Yeo said. “He’s an important part of this team. He’s a guy that we need coming in and playing at the level that he can play at. Because he makes us a better team when he does that.”

When asked what specifically went wrong for Barbashev early this season, Yeo replied: “I can’t give you one thing. It’s just his effectiveness in his game as far as creating turnovers, the competitiveness of being a difference-maker, whether it’s in the offensive zone or the defensive zone — it’s just not there right now.

“I think that some of that is confidence. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that he came in and didn’t have a real strong camp. And then like I said, it’s hard to find that. It’s something that you can’t inject into a player, especially a young player. So he’ll have the opportunity to go down and play big minutes (for the Wolves) and try to find it.”

The Blues also sent down forward Sammy Blais on Monday, assigning him to San Antonio of the AHL. At the end of the business day Monday, the team announced it had recalled forward Beau Bennett from Chicago of the AHL, leaving the Blues with one roster opening.

Bennett, 25, was a first-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2010. He was in camp with the Blues this preseason and had one goal and two assists in three games for the Wolves this season.

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