With the Blues’ 2017 playoff run complete, Ivan Barbashev, Zach Sanford, and Jordan Schmaltz are back in the AHL.
With the St. Louis Blues having been eliminated from the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday afternoon, they made several moves on Monday morning to help out their AHL club, the Chicago Wolves, with their postseason run. The Wolves, who have advanced past the first round of the AHL playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season, gained the services of forwards Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford and defenseman Jordan Schmaltz.
This will actually be Sanford’s tour of duty with the Wolves, as he was traded to the Blues in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline and remained in the NHL for the rest of the season. He’d spent 25 games with the Washington Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, earlier in the season, but he had been recalled by the Caps in early February. Barbashev and Schmaltz had both spent quite a bit of time with the Wolves earlier in the season, with both having suited up in regular season games for the team as recently as February.
While they were all essential players for the NHL club near the end of the regular season, Barbashev, Sanford, and Schmaltz primarily served as members of the “taxi squad” during the postseason, with Schmaltz even shuttling back and forth between the Blues and Wolves to get regular game action.
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Barbashev got the most playoff action of the trio, playing in six games while going pointless and posting a minus-1 rating. Sanford played in four games and had no points and an even rating, while Schmaltz played in just one playoff game–the first-round series opener against the Minnesota Wild–and also had an even rating with no points.
The three players are all roughly a year apart in age–Schmaltz is 23, Sanford is 22, and Barbashev is 21–and all three showed this season that they’re capable of being impactful NHL players in the future. It’s highly debatable whether the Blues will give any of them extensive playing time, as Scottie Upshall is the only unrestricted free agent on the team and they’ll be getting Robby Fabbri back from the season-ending knee injury he suffered in February, but all of them will at least serve as intriguing depth options in 2017-18.
All three players suited up for the Wolves’ 6-3 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday. Schmaltz was the only player to collect a point, assisting on the second of two Kenny Agostino goals.
The Wolves are now down 3-1 in their second-round series with the Griffins, and they’ll fight for their playoff lives on Saturday night. While Barbashev and Sanford are probably at somewhat of a disadvantage since they haven’t played regularly in a while–Barbashev’s final playoff game with the Blues was on April 30, while Sanford’s came on May 2–it’s certainly a plus for the Wolves to get a few more NHL-caliber players as they fight through a tough playoff series.