Happy Halloween to all my fellow fantasy hockey ghosts and ghouls out there! Halloween also marks the last day of October, so I figured what better time to recap some of the standouts from the first month of the season. It's a bit of an abbreviated month since the season doesn't start right on October 1, but at least we have a bit more of a sample size to analyze these players. So without further delay, let's take a look at some early surprises thus far.
Ivan Barbashev (STL) C/RW
2021-22 Stats: 6 GP- 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS, 10 SOG, 11 Hits, 3 Blocks, 15:51 ATOI
Ivan Barbashev has been in the St. Louis Blues system for quite some time now. In fact, this is his sixth campaign with the Blues and so far, the 25-year-old Russian has had mixed results, but for the most part he hasn't been a fantasy-relevant player. His best showing came in 2018-19 when he tallied 14 goals and finished the season with 26 points. On top of that, his career average time on ice per game is just 12 and a half minutes so he hasn't had a ton of opportunity.
This season he was given what I would consider as a golden opportunity. He has started on the Blues' third line and is playing alongside Robert Thomas and a returning Vladimir Tarasenko. I'll be honest, I didn't expect much from this line when I saw it heading into the start of the season. There's been reports that Tarasenko is disgruntled and wants out of St. Louis. And I hate to stereotype a guy, but sometimes unhappy Russian players in the NHL is a formula for disaster. Also this line was slated as a third line, and I usually am skeptical of guys getting ample opportunities in the bottom-six.
Much to my surprise though, this line has been excellent and it seems as though Ivan the (Not-So) Terrible has found some chemistry with Thomas and his fellow countrymate Tarasenko. I think getting the chance to play with an elite talent has helped Barbashev. For a third-liner who doesn't get reps on the power play, he's still managed just under 16 minutes a night, and so far, he's made the most of his ice time.
In each of his six contests so far this season he has tallied a point. While the six points are solid, Barbashev does come with some caveats. First, as I just mentioned, he isn't getting any deployment on the power play, which really cripples his upside as a whole. Additionally, Barbashev has been a low-volume shooter throughout his career. In his first two games this year he didn't have a single shot, but it seems as he is growing more comfortable with his new linemates, he is peppering some more shots on net. On the flipside, if you are in