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No. 5 Shakir Mukhamadullin: An intriguing defensive prospect

There are a lot of new faces with the Sharks this season, specifically ones acquired via trade. Of them, Shakir Mukhamadullin might be the one of the more intriguing prospects. Mukhamadullin was a key piece when the Sharks traded Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils. Sure, the team wanted a first round draft pick in exchange for the power forward. But San Jose also needed some top prospects and Mukhamadullin fit that bill.

Position: Defense
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 178 lbs.
Age: 21
Date of Birth: January 10, 2002
Draft Year: 2020, 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils
Shoots: Left
2023-24 Team: San Jose Barracuda

San Jose was light on defensive prospects. On some levels, the team still is. However, Mukhamadullin fills the role of a large defenseman with potential offensive upside. While he likely won’t be a top-pairing defenseman, he has the ability to perform well in a top-four role. That’s something the Sharks are severely lacking at this current juncture.

So why were the Devils so willing to part with Mukhamadullin and his fellow defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk in order to acquire Meier? Because the Devils were in the enviable position of having too many young, NHL-caliber defensive prospects. Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec headline the young defense corps and are supported by the likes of John Marino, Kevin Bahl and veteran Dougie Hamilton. New Jersey had defensemen to spare.

Unlike Okhotiuk, which we discussed earlier in these Top 25 Under 25 rankings, Mukhamadullin has the skill set to play defense and drive the offensive play. In 67 games playing for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL last season, he had 25 points (6 G, 19 A). He was also a plus-16. That’s a good combination of defensively reliable while offensively potent that the Sharks could use more of.

When Mukhamadullin finished his season in the KHL, he came to North America and joined the Barracuda. In 12 games with San Jose, he had 10 points (1 G, 9 A) and was a plus-1 on a team that lost more games than it won.

Given the current political situation in Russia, Mukhamadullin has had little chance to represent his country in world tournaments, so we haven’t seen him play much against his international peers.

This season, Mukhamadullin will have his first solid opportunity to play professional hockey in North America. Sure, he had a taste of games last season in the AHL, but now Sharks fans will get to see how he plays day in and day out through an entire season.

What we like

It’s hard to talk about Mukhamadullin without talking about his size. He’s 6-foot-4 and while he’s lanky at 178 pounds, he’s starting to add some of that muscle that will be necessary to compete in the NHL. You can’t teach size, so starting with a good foundation in that regard gives you a leg up.

Mukhamadullin has a hard shot and a strong hockey IQ. Put those two things together and you get yourself a defenseman who knows how to launch pucks from the point that either find their way into the net or create rebounds that forwards can take advantage of. Think Brent Burns on the power play.

He’s also a smooth skater according to fellow prospect William Eklund, who worked out with Mukhamadullin at rookie camp and played with him during the rookie faceoff tournament in Las Vegas.

“Obviously, he’s a great player. He’s a big, big guy, can make great plays out there. I think he will be even more into this North American ice he will be even better,” said Eklund. “I don’t think we’ve seen how good he really is. He’s such a smooth skater out there. And you can see the plays he makes out there. So it’s fun to see.”

Mukhamadullin has a strong foundation of NHL-level tools according to The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler.

“The appeal of his raw tools can still contrast against the mistakes and sloppiness present in his game at times, but the consistency of his game has come a long way and the results have followed,” wrote Wheeler.

Areas of improvement

For Wheeler, the keyword is “raw.” Mukhamadullin’s game is still unrefined. He’s still finding his footing on North American ice, which can take some players more time than others.

If things go as planned, a year in the AHL where he is practicing the proper skills, getting used to a quicker pace of play and consistently making the smart plays will go a long way to ensuring that Mukhamadullin becomes a mainstay on the Sharks blueline.


We’ll kick things off with Mukhamadullin’s first AHL goal. There’s nothing fancy about the goal, but maybe that’s the best thing about it. Mukhamadullin wasn’t afraid to fire the puck on the net, and when he got the puck back, his immediate thought was: shoot it again.

The play was similar to what fans in the KHL were treated to whenever they watched Mukhamadullin play.

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