STOCKTON – Off of the ice, 18-year-old Nikolay Goldobin looks like he’s barely out of diapers.
But in his first preseason action in an NHL sweater, the Russian native showed why the Sharks made him the 27th overall pick in the 2014 draft, setting up a Barclay Goodrow marker and then scoring a pretty wraparound goal himself in San Jose’s 5-2 preseason win over Vancouver on Tuesday night at Stockton Arena.
Of course, one respectable showing in the first preseason game on the fifth day of training camp hardly means Goldobin is a future star or that he’ll even make the opening night roster. At the very least, though, he offered a glimpse of his high-end offensive flash.
“I thought Nikolay’s skill came as advertised,” Sharks assistant coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We used him in a variety of different situations. He made some really, really good plays. That’s what we were told we should expect from him, and he did a very good job and helped our team.”
Later, Woodcroft cautioned not to read too much into the performance.
“He showed that he’s a gamer. He showed that he has skill, but we’re one game into the preseason. He acquitted himself well. We’re looking forward to going into day six, and seeing what he brings on day six.”
Goldobin, too, realizes that having one solitary solid match in a split-squad situation doesn’t assure him of anything in the days ahead.
“I have to play better. A couple rookies played there, if Vancouver played their whole team it’s going to be harder,” he said. “I’ve got to work every day.”
While Goldobin is the more recognizable name due to his draft position, linemates Goodrow and Chris Tierney also played well and were a big reason the Sharks outshot Vancouver by a 34-12 margin for the game. Goodrow was an undrafted free agent the Sharks signed last March, while Tierney - who led the Sharks with four shots - is a 2012 second round pick.
Goodrow’s goal came when got in front of the net and tapped in a feed from Goldobin to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Minutes later he returned the favor by spotting Goldobin alone in the circle, leading to Goldobin's marker.
The chemistry was evident early, perhaps aided by Goodrow and Tierney being friendly with one another from their minor hockey days in Ontario.
“Tierney and I have known each other for a long time, so it was good to finally get a chance to play with him,” Goodrow said. “Goldobin is a really skilled player and makes it easy to play with.”
Like Goldobin, the first impression Goodrow made on his coaches was a positive one.
Woodcroft said: “We liked what we saw from him tonight, as we have what we’ve seen from him through the first few days of camp. It’s going to be a long competition for jobs, and right now he’s acquitting himself well.”
“I just want to go as far as I can,” Goodrow said. “I just want to do everything I can to make the coaches have to make a tough decision.”