St. Louis Blues center Ivan Barbashev Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues will have Ivan Barbashev in the lineup when they start their round-robin games in Edmonton, but they will lose him soon after. Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Barbashev will leave after one or two games for the birth of his child. The center will have to test negative for COVID-19 four times in four days upon returning to the bubble, meaning he could potentially miss the start of the first round depending on timing.

Barbashev, 24, recorded six points in 25 playoff games for the Blues last season en route to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. He played a key role physically for the team, recording 87 hits as St. Louis pounded teams into submission with a grueling, grinding style. This season he picked up right where he left off, punishing defenders with 144 hits in 69 games. He also produced offensively at the highest rate of his young career. In 69 games he put up 11 goals and 26 points while averaging just over 13 minutes a game.

Head coach Craig Berube was clear that when Barbashev returns he will re-enter the lineup, but he’s also preparing MacKenzie MacEachern for playing time.

The Blues, as one of the top teams in the Western Conference, get the advantage of playing this round-robin to determine playoff seeding. Had they been one of the teams in the qualification round, Barbashev could have missed the team’s chance to advance. Instead, like Lars Eller, who will also leave the bubble at some point to attend the birth of a child, Barbashev may only end up missing a few tune-up games.

This article first appeared on Pro Hockey Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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