No one questions Nikolay Goldobin’s offensive acumen. The Russian scored 44 points in 60 American Hockey League games and tallied two points in his first nine NHL contests. The defensive side of his game remains a question mark, though how much weight we should give that side of the ice given his immense offensive gifts is subject to debate.
I think it’s reasonable to say Goldobin must improve defensively to make this iteration of the San Jose Sharks. Peter DeBoer is a defensive-minded guy who wants two-way players on the ice, something you can see based on the way he deploys players at 5-on-5 and in penalty killing. Right now, Goldobin is not a two-way player.
We don’t know where the bar is, though. Goldobin may be very close to being good enough to earn a chance at becoming an NHL regular — let’s assume for the moment that he is. Where does he fit on the Sharks roster right now?
Like the Timo Meier conundrum, it kind of depends. General Fanager currently lists 13 forwards on the Sharks. Micheal Haley is listed among them, so let’s call it 12 since I expect him to play with the San Jose Barracuda for most of this year. Here’s the list:
- Joe Thornton
- Joe Pavelski
- Tomas Hertl
- Patrick Marleau
- Logan Couture
- Joonas Donskoi
- Joel Ward
- Mikkel Boedker
- Chris Tierney
- Matt Nieto
- Tommy Wingels
- Melker Karlsson
This list doesn’t include Meier, who I think will make the Sharks out of training camp. So let’s say there are 13 forwards, meaning someone has to go in order for Goldobin to get called up. The four forwards at the bottom of the above list are the most likely candidates — and I’ve already shared my thoughts on who it should be.
So if the Sharks manage to move Wingels, one way or another, they could call Goldobin up. Then we’d likely get a fight between him and Nieto to stay out of the press box. Right now, think what you will about Nieto, but he’s a more complete two-way guy than Goldobin is ... which is why that kind of logic can be flawed.
For instance: I would rather have a player who’s an eight offensively and a four defensively than someone who is a five each way. I’m not saying these ratings specifically match the players above, but you get the idea. Fill a team with the best players and try to find complementary pieces — God knows the Sharks are all set on stay-at-home defenders.
All this to say that yes, Goldobin will be in a battle for a roster spot at the upcoming Sharks training camp. Guys like Nieto, Wingels and even Tierney to a degree should watch their backs. Goldobin is nipping at their heels.