With the rest of the team on a five-day break, Magnus Paajarvi and Ivan Barbashev will go down to the AHL and get some work in.
The St. Louis Blues’ league-mandated five-day bye begins Tuesday and goes until Sunday, when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks. Since NHL teams’ salary cap spending is calculated on a day-by-day basis, that means it’s advantageous for them to shed as many players as possible from their NHL roster during the break, and many of the teams who have already have their bye weeks this season have taken advantage of this technique.
The Blues are the latest team to do so, sending center Ivan Barbashev and winger Magnus Paajarvi to the AHL Chicago Wolves on Tuesday morning. The moves are not at all a product of the two forwards’ recent performance; instead, there are a variety of benefits to sending each player down and the Blues are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Barbashev, a 21-year-old rookie who has emerged recently and seized a role along the Blues’ top nine forwards, is on a two-way contract and is exempt from the waiver process, so the Blues can send him down without any risk and avoid paying a portion of his pro-rated $742,500 NHL salary.
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Since he’s only played 12 games at the NHL level (collecting two goals and an assist over that period), it’s still beneficial for him to get as much action as he can in the minors when the opportunity arises.
Paajarvi, meanwhile, is currently in the midst of the veteran waiver-exempt period, which allows a player to go back and forth without consequence until they’ve been in the NHL for 30 days or played in 10 games since the last time they were put through waivers. After being waived and sent to Chicago in October, Paajarvi has played in seven games since his return on February 5. The 25-year-old winger has been exceptional over that period, collecting two goals and an assist. His strong performance has kept fellow wingers Nail Yakupov and Dmitrij Jaskin in the press box for seven games each over the past two weeks. By sending him down, the Blues conserve a few days on the clock if they want to send him down later on. With that said, he’s got a good chance to spend the rest of the season in the NHL, as rosters expand following the March 1 trade deadline.
The Wolves have a game against the Cleveland Monsters on Wednesday morning that Barbashev and Paajarvi will likely play in. They also host the Iowa Wild on Saturday night, meaning it’d be convenient for the two demoted forwards to play in that game since the Blues are in Chicago Sunday night. We’ll see, however, if the Blues want to subject them to a back-to-back or call them back up on Saturday.