Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Nikolay Goldobin, LW
Age: 19 (turns 20 on Oct. 7)
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $894,166, signed through 2017-18
2014-15 year in review: Nikolay Goldobin attended his first NHL training camp last September, immediately showing the kind of offensive flash that made him a first round draft pick just a few months earlier. Although he didn’t make the team, he certainly left a good first impression as one of the Sharks’ final cuts.
Goldobin went to Finland, posting 11 goals and 21 points in 38 games against older and more experienced competition than he would have found had he gone back to Juniors. Late in the season he was added to AHL Worcester’s roster, scoring three goals and five points in nine games, and in between helped his native Russia to a silver medal in the World Junior Championships.
2015-16 outlook: Last September when Goldobin was pushing for a roster spot, his agent, former NHL great Igor Larionov, advised general manager Doug Wilson that his client wasn’t ready. Wilson agreed. Goldobin needed to get bigger and put on muscle, and anyone who saw Goldobin in person - out of his skates and pads - could see that was obvious.
Now, though, Goldobin could be ready, saying in July at rookie camp that he’d put on 10 pounds. That was before he went to Detroit to train more with Larionov, who told me at the NHL draft in late June that Goldobin may very well be ready to make the leap.
Headed into camp, Goldobin may be penciled in to start the season with the Barracudas, but I would imagine he’ll be given every opportunity to shine in some preseason games. As a skilled winger he’ll need to be on a line with a top center, so perhaps he gets a look with Joe Thornton or Logan Couture. There is always the chance Goldobin could push someone like Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson or Matt Nieto down the lineup, or maybe even a veteran like Patrick Marleau. It may not happen right away, but if Goldobin starts the year in the AHL and is tearing it up, he won’t have to take a cross-country flight on a recall. That should make some current Sharks a bit nervous.
The guess here is Goldobin will play at least some NHL games this season. Whether that happens sooner or later will be answered in camp.