July 9, 2015 By Paul Gackle

Goldobin Flashes Skills At Sharks’ Prospects Scrimmage

SAN JOSE — Nikolay Goldobin is proving that he’s an elite player when competing against his peers. Is he ready to flash his skills at the NHL level?

The 19-year-old Russian forward showed why the San Jose Sharks invested their 2014 first-round draft pick on him, leading Team Ricci to a 5-2 win in the Sharks Prospects Summer Scrimmage with a goal and an assist at SAP Center on Tuesday.

Goldobin helped his squad jump out to a 1-0 lead in the game’s first minute by dancing into the slot with some nifty stick work before leaving the puck for linemate Nikita Jevpalovs to put home for an easy tally.

The Russian prospect stretched the lead to 3-0 at the beginning of the second half (the teams played two 25-minutes halves and a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period) by beating netminder Mike Robinson stick side on a penalty shot.

“That’s my favorite goal move there,” Goldobin joked. “I already knew that I was going to score.”

While Goldobin impressed the crowd at the Shark Tank with his offensive gifts, it wasn’t entirely surprising to see him put on a show against a collection of NHL prospects and future minor leaguers.

The Sharks drafted Goldobin with the No.27 pick in the 2014 NHL draft because of his offensive talent. The question now is whether he can develop his two-way game to a level where he can be an effective player in the NHL on a nightly basis.

“He’s got offense. When he wants to go, he’s pretty good,” San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said. “The big thing with him, he’s got to be a little more consistent.”

Sommer, who runs the Sharks development camp, said defensive zone details are key to playing in the NHL.

“If you’re going to play up here, if you’re not detailed defensively, you don’t really get to play very long, then you’re back here,” he said.

Goldobin agreed that his defensive details need to be improved before he can be an everyday NHL player.

“I played the defensive zone, not really good,” he said, referring to his 2014-15 season in Finland. “But now, I think I’m…not bad and trying to improve everything.”

After a strong performance in training camp last year, Goldobin spent the 2014-15 season playing in the Finnish Elite League for HIFK Helsinki instead of returning to the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. The idea here was that Goldobin would benefit from competing against men rather than carving up his peers in junior hockey.

Goldobin said the move made him a better player.

“It was the first year against the men and fast hockey,” he said. “I think it helped me a lot to go for the future and make the Sharks.”

The six-foot forward also gained 10 pounds of muscle last year and he’s hoping to add another five before training camp starts in September to put him up to 190 pounds. Strength is another key to playing in the NHL.

While Goldobin is a work in progress, he has a better chance of seeing ice time with the Sharks next season than other prospects, like 2015 first-round pick Timo Meier and Kelowna Rockets standout Rourke Chartier, because he will turn 20 in October, which will make him eligible to play in the AHL.

The Sharks are unlikely to waste a roster spot on Meier or Chartier because they’re too young to play in the AHL, and after nine NHL games, they would be ineligible to return to their junior hockey teams.

At this point, Goldobin’s future with the Sharks depends on his ability to master the details and operate within head coach Peter DeBoer’s defensive-minded system. Everyone knows he can score.

“Anyone can teach defense and play defense,” Sommer said. “But not a lot of guys are gifted offensively.”

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