Published Wednesday, June 28, 2023 | 2:29 p.m.
Updated 2 hours, 38 minutes ago
The Golden Knights have struck a deal with one of their important pending unrestricted free agents, coming to terms on a five-year, $25 million extension ($5 million average annual value) with forward Ivan Barbashev, the team announced this afternoon.
The signing comes an hour after the Golden Knights traded Reilly Smith, one of the club’s original members, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a third-round pick in 2024.
Smith carried a cap hit of $5 million over the next two seasons.
The 27-year-old Barbashev was acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27 in exchange for prospect forward Zach Dean. Barbashev had 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 23 regular season games, but shined in the playoffs with 18 points in 22 games to help the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup.
Barbashev’s production came at first-line left wing, skating on a line with Jack Eichel and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Marchessault.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon said at the time of the trade that the Golden Knights were interested in keeping Barbashev long-term.
Re-signing Barbashev was a priority for the Golden Knights, but it appeared the door was shut at the beginning of the week following the report of goalie Adin Hill closing in on a two-year extension.
With Barbashev offsetting the $5 million sent out with the Smith trade, that puts the Golden Knights back at $3.46 million in cap space committed to 11 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies. Robin Lehner could be placed on long-term injured reserve to free up $5 million in salary relief.
Vegas took care of one of its restricted free agents Wednesday morning, signing AHL Henderson captain Brayden Pachal to a two-year deal at $775,000 per season.
Forwards Brett Howden and Pavel Dorofeyev are the two remaining RFAs the Golden Knights need to address. Unrestricted free agents goalie Jonathan Quick, and forwards Teddy Blueger and Phil Kessel are not expected to return, but McCrimmon said the focus turns to bringing back their own free agents.